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SPAN 2017 Pittsburgh – Livestream Day 1

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Hello and welcome to SPAN 2017. I'm Amber Bravo I'm a creative lead at Google Design. Google Design is a
cooperative team of designers, writers, and producers who work at Google. Our
focus is to support and promote designers work both at Google and beyond.
We do this in a number of ways: so we published content on design dot Google,
stories like what it means to develop brand systems in VR or how we might
approach voice user interface design. We also work closely with the Material
Design team who create design guidelines, tools, and resources. The Material Design
guidelines are a set of best-in-class principles for designing clear and
beautiful UI, exploring everything from color, motion, and typography. Our Material
Components are a set of modular and customizable UI components for web,
Android, and iOS. But we think of our work on Material as more than just a system.
It's also about creating and seeking a deeper understanding of the workflow
between design and engineering, and seeing what tools we can provide to make
to provide a foster a healthier dialogue.

Of course, a design system is
only as good as the community it serves, so for the last three years we've given
out the Material Design Awards to showcase what we believe to be
best-in-class examples of Material Design out in the wild. This year's
winners — Blinkist, Eventbrite Organizer, NPR One and the mondo — were just
announced yesterday on design.google and are joining us here in Pittsburgh. So
please give them a round of applause and do go check out their excellent work.
They're really impressive. We were so inspired by the great work that these
teams and so many others are doing to bring Material Design to life. This is
just one way we connect meaningfully with the community.
Another large part of our agenda at Google Design is to support and promote
our peers through sponsorship efforts, so with professional design networks like
AIGA and AGI and editorial platforms like It's Nice That and the Design of
Business podcast among many others.

And of course through our on-the-ground
outreach efforts like SPAN. SPAN is our annual conference exploring creative
connections and innovation and technology. As a word and a concept, SPAN
of course suggests the space between your big and little finger, your thumb and your little finger. It's a maker's measure and to us this
really focuses our attention on the makers and the design and technology
community. It also suggests spanning distances and bridging connections
between practitioners from diverse areas of focus and even geographical locations.

This is our fourth year hosting span last year we were in Tokyo and LA, and
this year will be hosting events in Pittsburgh, obviously, Newcastle UK, and
Mexico City. So the idea is that we reach different speakers, we have different
attendees, but the mission is the same: to really connect the design community and
connect cultures. We're thrilled to be here in Pittsburgh. We were consistently
impressed with the talent, the level of talent and innovation coming out of this
city — work that is truly innovative on a global scale. And we're so pleased to
present the lineup for tonight. We'll have two talks and two panels scheduled.
We'll also have beer breaks, very important, snacks scheduled between
sessions, as well as more food after the event. Tomorrow we have a full agenda
starting bright and early. As always you can find out all of this on our website
which is G.CO/SPAN17.

We will also have printed schedules available at
registration. Ever-important Wi-Fi connectivity: you can find your Wi-Fi on
your badge. I'm not wearing my badge anymore but I used to be wearing it. As
well as a number of charging stations on the opposite side of the venue. Our official event hashtag, also very important, is #span17. Please use it. The bathrooms are on the fifth floor, but it's very clear how to get there: you
just follow the signs and should you get lost there will be a very friendly
person wearing a SPAN17 t-shirt to help you find your way. If you need to leave
an emergency, I'm gonna do my flight attendant move and direct you to the
lighted exit signs. For those watching at home via our livestream, welcome and
thanks for joining us from your respective locales. If you haven't
already please check out our handy viewing kit. It will give you tips for
how to watch SPAN, if you need tips on how to watch SPAN, and more importantly,
it has information about our giveaway.

So that can be found at design.google/span-kit. And don't worry you guys are all gonna get swag bags too. They will be here
tomorrow, so you have to come tomorrow. Also, for all of you that are here today,
you will get a SPAN pin that's gonna actually get you free access to a
number of cultural venues that we've identified around Pittsburgh. So go enjoy,
go to museums, be cultural, and go for free. During the breaks the space is
yours to explore, so please do. We have a series of installations about set up
throughout both days, including an installation from the Andy Warhol Museum.
You can do your own Andy Warhol screen test. As well as an
installation from Deeplocal, who collaborated with our SPAN team to
create a Self-Painting Art Nebulizer — or the poster machine
that's at the back of the venue. You should have all had your badge stamped, so look,
check, see if your badges have been stamped. That number is gonna
correspond to a poster. So basically what will happen is, throughout the day, I'll
be announcing what posters are ready for pickup.

We'll probably have some
announcements over the intercom telling you which posters are ready. You can go
get them and have your poster. Also just check out the installation, it's
really cool. So without further ado, let's get started. I'm thrilled to introduce
our first speaker, Madeline Gannon. Madeline's work focuses on inventing
better ways to communicate with machines and blends disciplinary knowledge from
design, robotics, and human-computer interaction to innovate at the edges of
digital creativity. So join me in welcoming Madeline. Hello hello. I am so delighted to be here
to kick-off SPAN and I just want to say thank you to Google Design for bringing
us all under this one roof, right? They've done an amazing job with the space, right?
You guys excited? For the whole weekend? Okay.

My name is Madeleine Gannon. I'm a
designer, a researcher, and a robot whisperer.
And I lead a research studio here in Pittsburgh called ATONATON, and we are
passionate about creating better ways to communicate with machines that make
things. So today I want to take some time to share with you how me and my studio
are reimagining the future of automation. So automation is of particular interest
here in Pittsburgh. This is the robotics capital of North America, and it is the
exemplar post-industrial city for the US.

And we've had an interesting relationship
over the past 50 years with these machines. Automation brings many benefits.
Now we have ways of creating things better, faster, cheaper, of higher quality
and to lower risk to human life. But we are now getting to a point where the
balance of power between humans and machines is starting to shift in the
machines' favor. Automation is rapidly outpacing job creation and we are now
facing a future where 5 million jobs by 2020 will be replaced due to rapid
adoption of robotic automation worldwide. But these machines are
incredible. They have superhuman speed, superhuman endurance, super human
reliability, precision, and I think we can all agree that it would be much better
if we are able to find a way for these machines to enhance, to augment and to
expand, our human capabilities — not replace them. And that's the future that
I'm working to build. We should have some audio in here. Thank you. I'm really passionate about
inventing better ways to communicate with machines that can make things.
For a long time industrial robots have been the culprit of automation and
replacing human labor.

Basically all the easy tasks to automate have been
automated. Now what we're working on is using these tools to enhance or augment
human labor and that to me is very exciting. Industrial robots are really
fantastic. CNC machines, you put a different tool at the end of the arm and
all of a sudden, they can do a whole different thing. So in the morning you
can be doing spot welding in the evening you can be painting. It's just highly
adaptable. Another thing that I'm really working towards is finding ways to bring
these machines out of factories and into live environments, so onto construction
sites or onto film sets.

There's a chance for unpredictable objects like people to
be moving into the environment, that's one of the reasons why I want to build
the system to give this robot eyes so that it could actually see me and we can
safely collaborate in a shared space. If I'm wearing or if I'm holding these
motion capture markers, it knows where I am in space. It knows how I'm moving in
space. Now all of a sudden we can give the machine a nuanced understanding of our
intention in that space. You can get someone who's never seen a robot before
and have them begin to do creative things with just a couple minutes of
interacting with the machine. So a key theme and how I explore our future with
robots is human-centered design, and when we think about our relationship to
technology, oftentimes the burden is on a person to understand how a black box
piece of software or hardware is supposed to be used and we have to
adapt to it.

But human-centered design inverts this relationship it works to
build a shared understanding between a person, a machine, and the built
environment. But for me I did not start working towards human-centered
automation immediately with robots. I actually started working with these guys
— these virtual squids. Just how to design with intelligent autonomous creatures in
ways that can extend your own imagination. So if anyone has tried 3d
modeling before, it is the perfect use case for human-centered design. To do this accurately you need to have a lot of technical knowledge and a lot of
training in order to create something. So I wanted to try to see how intuitive I
could make that and I built a way to reach into the computer to create
something with this tentacled collaborator that stretched the
boundaries of my own imagination.

So to make this a more human-centered
interface for design I embed the technical knowledge of an experienced
fabricator into the underlying anatomy of this virtual creature. And in effect
this lets us take the technology and push it out of the way so that we can
just get on with the business of crafting something really special with
our tentacled collaborator. So what you get is that this virtual anatomy becomes
these physical objects when they're taken out of the computer and brought
back into the physical world through 3d printing.

So this software system, Reverb,
lets you a 3d scan your body to pull it into the computer. It tracks your hand so
you can drape intricate designs around your body and it's instantly able to be
exported and it's already designed to fit and wear immediately. And so through this human-centered interaction with the fabrication technology, we get
these strangely anatomical artifacts that are tailored to our bodies, that
also push the absolute tolerances of a fabrication technique, while creating
exquisite forms that conform and deviate around from the body. And by embedding this ergonomics and human factors logic into this interactive
playful creature that we can engage with, we have these things that both conform
to the body and expand on it.

And this really got me thinking you know
it was amazing to reach into the computer to collaborate with this
creature but what if I could bring that geometry out and into the real world to
directly engage with me. And if we're going to design digital things for the
body, we might as well design them immediately on the body. So this system, Tactum, is able to
detect your skin and interactions with your body, and it
translates that to a CAD back-end that you don't see that's inside a computer.
And again just like Reverb, all the fabrication knowledge is embedded in this geometry so we can just print it and wear it right away.
So here's with some insights into how the system sees you.

With an above mounted camera we see the skeleton of the body and segment the forearm from the hand. We then attach animate playful geometry onto the forearm so it sticks with you
and responds to you as you move through space, and then we can sense the other
hand and where those finger gestures are and its proximity to your body and space
to create these gestures for 3d modeling. So with just one above mounted sensor we
can get a series of nine distinct gestures that are quite useful for 3d
modeling. And here for me was when I began to shift more towards robotics so
if we see that Reverb really brought this idea of intelligent,
autonomous geometry that I can interact with, and Tactum gave me an avenue to
bring that geometry out of the computer and on to the physical world to interact
with me directly, I thought why can't I do this with a robot? You know a 3d
printer is a 3-axis robot.

If I'm already feeding it to this machine I
could feed it to a robotic arm, a six axis robot. And evidently there is good
reason out there not to do this. These machines, when you scrape through the
user manual you are greeted with visions of your impending doom. And
this holds true for industry as well. When you go into a factory there is
strict separation between robots and people, and there's good reason for this.
You know these are made of hardened steel and we are made of soft squishy
flesh.

And those things don't often go well together. But part of approaching
this problem as a designer outside the world of robotics is that you often
don't know the things you shouldn't do. So I've made a
back-massaging robot — here so you lean harder into it and it leans harder into
you. And you lean forward and it goes a little softer. And I've also done a lot
of work hacking industrial robots to make cheaper, better hardware that's more
open for people who may not have all the resources we need. And I've created
open-source software for doing creative things with robots — from character
animation to again responding in real time. You know I I'm really passionate
about doing anything to illustrate that there are alternative visions of how
these machines can engage with us that have been perhaps overlooked and
underutilized in industry in their pursuit of automation.

And I was
fortunate enough last year to be given an opportunity to take these ideas and
bring them out of the lab and into a live environment at the Design Museum in
London. They invited me to contribute to this inaugural exhibit, "Fear and Love." And
they asked me to think about the complexities of our fear and love of
automation. And I thought about my work with ABBA here and how training her and
learning her idiosyncrasies while also programming her — it reminded me a lot of
Victorian zoos where people would do feats of daring between trainers and
giant beasts or where you bring these exotic creatures to unfamiliar places
for the general public.

So in the Design Museum we decided to bring an industrial
robot to live there for the six months to provide an opportunity as a point of
first contact between the general public who may not know it but these robots impact the things that they use every day and Mimus here. So it was an
incredible opportunity to create a way for people to engage with this
and really connect the body language of people visiting a Mimus with her own
body language and her own characteristics. So here we see some interaction vignettes that we developed prior to
bringing here to life. And of course you have to watch out for the selfie
sticks. So this is how Mimus sees you. She doesn't see you through her face,
instead just like the previous work that I showed, we use above mounted sensors to see everyone walking around her so unlike you and me where we only have two
eyes, Mimus has eight eyes and sees depth. From there we can extract certain
things like your position, your time you've been there, your proximity to Mimus
— and we can extract and begin to interpolate certain characteristics
about you.

If you're very very close and you've
been there for a long time, maybe you trust her. If you are short and you are
jumping around maybe you're a kid. And we built a ranking system for Mimus to
go see who is the most interesting person and then, if you stop into being
interesting, she gets bored and she goes to someone else — just like a tiger at the
zoo.

So here's what it looks like. These these sensors hung in the
ceiling that we had developed. The program which we developed is really
just directly connected to this machine so now you don't have to program it —it's
understanding how your body is moving in space and reacting to it. And you
can internalize that information that she's broadcasting as well. And then in
the Design Museum the installers are having a little fun. The Design Museum
just opened here and these guys are installing the ceiling and messing
around with Mimus on their break.

But it was great to see you know like one
person walking down low and then coming up high when the people mover just
drove past. So here she is in her enclosure in her glass cage and really
with this project you know mostly when we see robots interacting with people
they have eyes they have screens they have human features. For me Mimus, she
has a really restricted palette to communicate her internal state of mind —
she has the motion that she moves with the posture that she holds, and the sound
of her motors. Could we turn up the sound a little bit? So even with that really restrictive
material palette, we can elicit a range of emotions. So here we see
people who think that she's friendly and curious. Here we see people who are thinking she's a little more flirtatious. There are her motors. And even a little bit lewd
with her with her gestures.

And also very important that people that thought
it was creepy, and a little bit distrusting that this overtly dangerous
machine is so cute. And these are all really important questions that we as a
collective need to begin to process because these large-scale autonomous
machines are joining us in our built environment in our cities. Pittsburgh is
a great example of that with the self-driving cars that roam our streets
now. So just how are we going to share our world with these machines? I don't
have an answer. But it's pretty incredible how you give
a machine a sense of movement and life-like reaction and people can't help
but project your emotions onto it and create a more empathic bond with this lump of motors and steel. So I hope that this way sometimes you see it
as a creature instead of a thing. But as we continue to march forward
into the future, I am really bolstered by the fact that these kids here are
growing up in a world where they are anticipating and expecting that their
technology is attentive and empathic to their needs.

And if there's one thing
that I hope you take from this talk, I hope you feel emboldened that we are not
bystanders to technology and that we have an active say in just how the
future arrives. Thank you all. Thank You Madeline is it strange
that I want to bring an industrial robot home? To my house? I don't know. Our next
panel will explore the diverse ways that we experience art in contemporary
society through both practice, curation, and play. Desi Gonzalez is a researcher and maker exploring the intersection of art and technology. She
currently leads digital engagement at the Andy Warhol Museum. Paulo Pedercini is a game developer, artist, and educator. Since 2003, Pedercini has
worked under the project name Molleindustria producing provocative games
addressing issues of social and environmental justice, religion, labor, and
alienation.

Jon Rubin is an interdisciplinary artist who creates
interventions that reimagine individual, group, and institutional behavior. He's
exhibited internationally and also here in Pittsburgh — I'm sure you guys have
seen the Last Billboard project which is right around here somewhere —
and you've probably eaten at Conflict Kitchen. Our moderator Aaron Lammer is responsible for producing podcasts like
Longform and Stoner. And he'll also be documenting and producing a series of
SPAN podcasts for us so please stay tuned for those. So without further ado,
welcome Aaron and our panelists. Hello Pittsburgh! I think we're gonna
hear a little bit from each of the panelists — about their work. They're gonna
show some slides. This is work that sometimes you can look at, sometimes you
can see, sometimes you have to climb on top of the building to see, but we'll get a
little overview of what everyone's up to and then we'll all talk.

Are we in the way of the images? Kind of sitting in front of the images. Desi Gonzalez, ladies and gentlemen Hi, I'm Desi Gonzalez. I live here in Pittsburgh. I'm a writer, a researcher, designer, a media maker, and
I've gotten to write and research and media-make and design at a number of
wonderful places. I've been at the Museum of Modern Art working on interactive
exhibitions. I did a short stint at a residency at La Victoria Lab in Lima,
Peru, which is a human-centered design lab started in conjunction with IDEO, and
we worked on educational technology for the emerging middle class there.

I did my
graduate studies at MIT, where I focused on kind of impacts of new media and
technology from a humanistic and social science lens, and I'm now the
Manager of Digital Engagement at The Warhol. So I'm leading visitor-facing
technology initiatives there and I like to say that I work at the
intersection of art and technology. When we think about art, we think about things
like imagination, expression, nuance, subjectivity, and on the other hand you
know logic, code, binary, objectivity. Now of course these are really gross
generalizations. We know that it's much more complicated than that. But what I
like about working at that intersection, even though I don't necessarily consider
myself an artist, is that I still get to blur these boundaries between the two.
And challenge preconceptions. So you know one way that
I get to blur boundaries in my museum work is that I'm providing access in
ways that were not previously possible.

So if you were to go to The Warhol and
go to a permanent collection galleries on each floor, you'd see a number of
these tactile reproductions that you see on the left. The example I have here is
of Warhol's painting Coca-Cola 2 — and these raised lines, surface reliefs,
of iconic works in our collection allow a person to get an
understanding of his works through the sense of touch. You can use that at the museum in
conjunction with our audio guide, Out Loud, and this is an audio guide that is
available for all visitors but that we designed in conjunction in collaboration
with folks who are visually impaired — who are blind or have low vision. So on the
audio guide we're combining educational content with accessible content, we're
pushing out content based on where you're located in the galleries.

And
it was a really fantastic process for me to work on this, to work with
community members who are blind and have low vision to build something that's crafted specifically to make a meaningful experience. And one
of our co-designers, she's been blind her entire adult life, and she told me when
you think about a visual art museum you don't necessarily think about a blind
person coming here. Right? A visual art museum. And and we're really excited to
flip this notion on on its head. So I'm going to share a few more projects that
are about the intersection of art and technology and
that I've worked on. This one's actually not. It's art-related but I did it while
I was a graduate student or at least started it. I've been thinking about… how can we… One thing I thought about a lot was how can you turn
aesthetics into data and vice versa.

And a project I worked on were these
art crayons. On the left you'll see an early prototype. This is basically a
bar graph. Each band in the crayon represents the amount of the
top five colors. I took a painting and put it through a color analysis script. I
matched up those colors to Crayola colors box — a 120 pack of Crayola crayons. I melted them down and created these new ones. So the one on the left is of
Georgia O'Keeffe's "Music Pink and Blue No 2" painting, and it itself — the
image — is an abstract work in the first place.

So you know there's a tension
going on with this work, where in the first place, I was interested in taking
messy, cold data and putting it into a neat kind of
database, and on the other hand it's absurd to be taking something that's abstract and abstracting it in another form. And I really enjoyed that.
The crayons on the on the right I made more recently. I made those actually once
I was already at the Andy Warhol Museum. And in my role working on digital
projects, I face a limitation which is that we we don't own the intellectual
property to the works in The Warhol collection — for most of them. It
makes my work a little bit difficult. I can't show you an image of a Warhol work
right now even though Warhol works are some of the most iconic artworks in the
world, right? But in this way I was able to circumvent that.

I can now show
you these art crayons — the third crayon with a big band of white, that's a
Campbell Soup can. You guys might have an image of that in your brain. So it's the
white background that dominates the crayon with a little bit of red, a little
bit of blue or a rather gray, and black, and then it's tiniest bit of gold. And
that represents the soup can's label. So this is my way to
circumvent those limitations. And then a final project I want to share with you,
and then I'll be moving on, Is just how can we use technology to take us to
a different time and space through art as well. And right outside of this area
you may have seen that we have a Screen Test Machine set up.

We also have one of
these — this is an image from from my museum the Andy Warhol Museum. Warhol, between 1964 and 1965, created almost 500 of these screen tests where he would
have someone come to his Factory studio, sit in front of a little Bolex camera —
there's a hundred-foot reel of film — and he would let it run the entire time,
which was about three minutes, capture this image kind of a close-up very
intimate shot, and then he would play them back in the studio at at a slowed
down pace, slightly slower. And it would result in this very ethereal silent film,
almost a character study. And you know at the Museum, you are able to be in the
Factory studio yourself, sit for a screen test in the Screen Test Machine. You
yourself can can sit down and have your video recorded and then it'll get
sent to you at the slower pace. And what I love about this this interactive is
that it allows you to be the art, to be in the 1960s, to imagine what it would
have been like to be in Warhol's studio. So thank you. All right. What's up? Hi, I'm
Paolo Pedercini.

I have a stupid slide here. So yeah I'm from Italy originally and
I've been living in Pittsburgh for about eight years, where I teach at Carnegie
Mellon University. But I mostly work under the project name Molleindustria. Can you lower the volume? Yeah, it's pretty loud. So I've been making essentially games — political, satirical, experimental games under the name Molleindustria for about 10, almost
15 years actually. And I like to use games as a form of communication, as a
form of satire, but also to mess with the language of video games or mainstream
video games. All of them so far are responding and questioning the tropes
and the mechanics that we take for granted and try to foster a kind of
critical thinking toward this language of video games, because I believe games have
their own language and not just embed that in the stories and the characters
but also in the mechanics and in the systems that they kind of like enact. So
what the designers decide to include and what they decide to exclude, for example.
So my games are kind of meant to actually encourage some kind of system
thinking around actual complex systems that we live in.

For example this one was
an old one called the McDonald's video game, in which you're managing the
McDonald's company as this sort of CEO through this dislocated, globalized
production process. And it's meant to sort of illustrate all the questionable
aspects of the supply chain. Yeah this other one, it's
actually uses storytelling. It's called Home Story and it's a kind of an
educational game for smartphones — mostly iPhones and Android phones. And it also
talks about the production process of the device itself from the perspective
of the phone. The phone sort of like talks to you and kind of implicates
you in this process, in this problematic process. And you go
from the Coltan mines in Congo to the Foxconn Factory where that was a moment — it's funny but not — there was a moment in which there was a wave of
suicides you know, like literally people tossing themselves off the buildings of
this factory and so on.

So there is a bit of dark humor, but it's
mostly educational. You hear this kind of boys talking about it and yeah Apple
didn't like it and they banned from the store. It's still on Android though, thank
you Google. So this one is called To Build a Better Mousetrap. And it's also
about a supply chain process — a management game, but it's a bit more
abstract and it's meant to kind of distill and dramatize the conflicts of
late capitalism — in particular the conflict between innovation and labor,
like automation and innovating products versus innovating processes and so on. Next, this one is called Nova Leia and it's… I like this to
combine this idea of storytelling and simulation so this is a first of a
series of city games that are meant to talk about… let's say that to be a kind
of an alternative to Sim City. Everybody knows Sim City and everybody knows this
kind of all-encompassing ambitious simulation of urban environments and
this one is meant to just focus on one very specific aspect of urbanism through
video game which is gentrification and a financial speculation through real
estate so you're basically it's basically kind
of like a house flipping simulation and at some point a click
and at some point you also encounter a kind of resistance from below and you
see you see the invisible citizens are essentially like rising up and adding
new rules and new systems that are kind of pointing to rent control measures or
anti-speculation measures to force you to rethink your strategy and so on.
Next.

So this one is the next one that is coming up is it's called A Man.
And it's a narrative game in which you're playing as a drone pilot. It's a
game about a day in the life of a drone pilot. And it's all presented through
this split screen or double channel screen — kind of meant to almost
mirror the disconnection that I imagine these fighters and pilots have in living
their lives. So essentially in a suburban, you know, normal family in Las Vegas but
also being on the frontline. And this one — I'm gonna I'm gonna go fast —
click click. The next one is this is a more recent one for VR. It's called A
Short History of the Gaze. And I call it an experiential essay about the relationship between looking at things and VR — mostly because a lot of
what you do in VR is kind of like looking at things. But the gaze is never
really problematized in some kind of way. There's a lot of talk about VR as an
empathy machine or to promote empathy, but I kind of wanted to create a
little bit more critical distance and create a game or an experience that was
not really about you know feeling the world through seeing the world through
the eyes of a refugee or something — but actually more conveying a set of ideas
that are a bit more abstract.

I really went a little bit more theoretical. So in
the game you're basically like going through a series of vignettes
from the development of vision in a Precambrian creature to a panopticon. And
so on. So some things happened in this country that made me write kind of like
question essentially "what what am I even doing with my life?" —
as a designer you know, like making like these very academic sort of games and so
on. And my I guess my first immediate response was a compilation of
games called Casual Games for Protesters, which is a series of games that are not
digital.

They are analog, folk games. Street games that require very little
preparation and very little — almost no — technology. What it is is essentially is,
yeah, a collection of games to be played in the context of protests, marches, and
occupations that are meant to enrich these experiences and kind of
fight boredom. Because every time I go to a rally or
a march, I'm kind of like bored. And so these are kind of things that
you can do to pass time. But also in a sort of thematically related way. And
it is to to produce experiences that are transformative in themselves. I think
activism should be like immediately an inherently transformative for
the people who participate, regardless of the political effect that it can have.
And so yeah I think there is a role for games and for experience designers in
this particular field. And now you can play many other games at the website
Molleindustria, they are all free and yes. Thank you. Am I really loud? It seems loud.

Okay.
Thanks. I'm Jon Rubin. I also live in
Pittsburgh and I'm the grad director at Carnegie Mellon School of Art and an
artist here. I don't know why I'm on this panel, but I'm gonna show the work. I'm gonna show three projects that I made within probably 500 feet from where we're sitting right now. The first one started eight years ago
and the last one's still going.

And so this is the sort of three projects that developed: a billboard, the waffle shop, and conflict kitchen. But kind of walking you
through the process of that, I rented a space that had been empty for over three years right on the corner of Highland and Baum, and started having classes
there. And out of those classes we developed this project called the waffle
shop, and it's something that was developed as a reality TV show — which was a complete disaster, as every reality TV show is. And then morphed into this thing
which was a live streaming talk show that happened every time this faux — which
became real restaurant — was open. So essentially we opened a waffle shop and
people streamed in thinking, "hey this is a restaurant where I can get waffles." And then there was this kind of bait and switch in which, in the back of the
restaurant, there was also a talk show where our customers were coaxed to be
participants.

We then livestreamed it over the internet — in a very low fly way — and you know what was kind of interesting to me was to try to create a space in the
public realm that seems both normative and absurd. That wouldn't normally happen
if, you know, perhaps an artist didn't intervene. And what you had was everyday
people who might not normally be engaging with each other are coming into
this waffle shop and being coaxed into conversations. And there's a kind of
stream of consciousness documentary of whoever happens to occupy this space at
that moment being broadcast out into the world. So I was really interested in a
very visceral person-to-person experience that is often
mediated by technology and television, being kind of available and very low-fi.
So over the six years that this project ended up running, we had over 10,000
people who sort of became the performers. And it was nice because anyone who
walked in and bought a waffle was a funder. If you sat down to eat you became
a viewer. And if you were coaxed on this stage, you became a presenter.

That's any
individual walking in could perform every role the institution needed. And it
was a sort of non-hierarchical model that was constructed in the middle of
the city. Out of that project I worked with another artist, Dawn Weleski, and we
created Conflict Kitchen — which actually started right out of the side door of
the waffle shop. So initially we were running two restaurants out of one
kitchen. And the idea with Conflict Kitchen — which ended up lasting for seven
years and is about to translate into another iteration — was to think about not
only Pittsburgh, but something that could happen in the entire United States — you know what is missing from our discourse, you know, what is the byproduct
of our xenophobia and ignorance and how does that manifest not just in policy
but in discourse amongst each other on the street.

So we took kind of the
mechanisms that were working in the waffle shop — which is we got food as a
way to coax people into conversation with each other — and we targeted that
much more specifically around countries that the United States was in conflict
with. So every four to five months we would switch and focus on a new country.
We would then travel oftentimes — this is sort of later in the project when we had
some income to do so — to Palestine, work with North Korean refugees, or Cubans. And
then bring all that — both the information and the food and the recipes and
relationships with local communities that are from those nations — and use this
kind of window kind of like we were using the talk show as a sort of
mechanism to engage conversation that wasn't ordinarily happening. Also, as a tool to disseminate information that is
either uncomfortable or unfamiliar to people. So again using, you know, this
material of your food the bypasses your intellect. So these are
kind of anti technology. These are old technologies of recipes being the
original open-source form that everyone shares and and transfigures in
many ways.

So we moved to Schenley Plaza about five years ago. We focused on North
Korea. We focused on Palestine. We focused on Iran. We had a whole education and
outreach program, a live trivia show — when you're waiting in line, publications
about kids who are living in those countries, interviews with Cubans asking
them to write a speech they wish Barack Obama would deliver — then hiring a Barack Obama imitator to deliver it. Then hiring an even better one to produce it
for television. This is a live Skype meal between Pittsburgh and Tehran which we
did several times — where we ate the same foods together. We started to work with
local organizations. This is the Islamic Centre. School groups. Virtual dinner
parties. Cooking lessons where someone in Iran a chef would cook
for people all over the world in their home kitchens. So basically after about
seven years the project closed in its location, and we've
received a grant to check the feasibility of actually taking this
project into other cities across the United States. And we have another model
for how we're going to manifest it in Pittsburgh.

And then finally the Last
Billboard, which I think was brought up briefly, is a project that started in in
the space that used to be occupied by conventional advertising that was pulled
out. And I asked the landlord if I could use that and re-modify the system to create a
kind of anti advertising system. So basically the way the Last Billboard
works is I…

Yeah that's a good one. That actually was
right after the election. So the way that the Last Billboard works is we
literally get up there — and it takes about six hours by hand to take these
very heavy wooden letters and put them up and they end up lasting — even though
it sort of has the appearance perhaps of a tweet — it stays up there and
this incredibly material way. I guess it confounds your
expectation of how text should exist in the public realm and what it should be
saying, and becomes a really facile venue for me to work with artists all over the
world and bring them in. And you know bring
beautiful sentiments and perspectives. This is Marc Horowitz who just put
his phone number up there. Adam Freeland who did this piece it's called The Crier,
which has three different interpretations of crier.

And this is Kim Beck, a piece that she recently did. So that's also been going on for
about six years. So I'm really interested in being a resident in Pittsburg — that my
work takes place here in a very physical way and that it's an
opportunity for me to engage with my community. That said, a project I'm
currently working on and I have been for three years is developing a sitcom
that's going to be jointly produced in an apartment in Tehran and a space here
in the United States.

So I could talk more about that perhaps but that's it. Thanks to everyone. Wow. Jon said he didn't know why he was on
this panel, and so it made me think about what united all three of your work. And
the thing that occurred to me was that all of your work requires other
people. If no one goes and physically experiences it, it doesn't really happen. If no one comes into the waffle shop, if no one plays the game, if no one touches
the coca-cola bottle, the art doesn't really mean much at all. I'm curious when
you take these projects out of the theoretical academic stage and unleash
the forces of humanity on them, what have you learned from the way that people actually interact with art and technology that differs from your plans? What happens when the games get played and when the people show up? I guess I'll start with what Desi and your
experiences in the museum.

What have been
some surprises about when you set up something like the screen test, and people actually screen test? Yeah so I think the screen test is maybe my favorite interactive that we have at the Andy Warhol Museum. Once I was in the — we
have it kind of it tucked away in a little gallery, not so dissimilar to
here — but it was in there a woman was wrapping up her screen test, her friend
was standing on the side, they were very silent. All of a sudden the lights go out
at the end of her time during the screen test. We have
these whirring sounds that were emulating the camera and then her
shoulders slumped, and as she goes like, "Wow, I didn't realize how tiring it would
be to be sitting for so long and concentrating" and having kind of this
intimate moment with the camera.

And to me, that was a really successful moment. It was kind of a moment of friction for someone at a museum — it's a little
strange. You go there to see other things, you don't go there to be seen
yourself necessarily. That there's a moment of discomfort for her but it also
gave her a sense of what it's like to be a participant in — and to be with the
activity of being in art being a subject
of it. What's that take. So Paolo when you're developing these games you know
in art generally people kind of just put it out and you know interpret it
yourself in technology there's user experience and affordances how much do
you consider the actual gameplay like are you user testing the orgasm simulate
Ron I not want anything test yeah it is so it is a bit of a problem because we
are there are a lot of moving parts in the game that contribute to the type of
interpretation that you get especially if the game has an intent that it's
perhaps like you know conveying absolutely message or range of messages
let's say that I don't like to think that my games have a message or a moral
but there is definitely a field of meaning that I'm interesting in you
falling in and then sometimes sometimes it's a problem like one example is that
once I made a game that was considered too hard by some players and and was
like oh this game is too hard it means that there's no hope in the world
because like you always end up you know being kicked in the butt and the people
coming out of the windows like we're not making an interpretation for example
right and and so it was like kind of like overnight I tweaked some variables
in many easier but then like other players were like oh this game is so
easy that clearly means that it was a game about like WikiLeaks or so it
clearly means that the leaks they're gonna change the world and whatever I
was like that's in that case the solution was a design solution which is
the dynamic difficulty of adjustment that means that the game is responding
to your player and kind of like getting harder depending on the kind of like the
skill level of the other player for example but sometimes you don't have a
kind of like an easy design a problem and what I i've been thinking more about
is to create games or toys or tools that allow to play subversively like that to
allow them allow you to the player to kind of like break them and do different
possibly unexpected things with them John when you're taking on a project
like the project that started as the wash of waffle shop and I think became
all of the projects that came after it how do you think about a project that
has no finite beginning or end like that and what's the decision-making process
like like who decides to open the conflict kitchen next to the waffle shop
once that's going I mean it's I was thinking about what paula was talking
about and again maybe I'm translating it not into an online universe but into you
know a daily life you know because it is very much a call-and-response process
you know I mean being just hanging out in the waffle shop every day
shit happens life happens people come up to you they say things you thus respond
the Billboard becomes empty you drive up and say hmm what if the the guy who has
a business next few owned opens a hot dog shop right outside of your waffle
shop and you're like hmm maybe we should compete against him and
create a takeout restaurant and what if we did what kind of takeout restaurant
would that be and all the sudden like tumbles forth a line of thinking that
relates to other interests that I have and so you know that it's so completely
nonlinear and partially I'm responding to like extremely idiosyncratic personal
interests and I'm also responding simultaneously to what I'm seeing in a
kind of a local public sphere of interest and then I'm looking at this
kind of global zeitgeist of you know I mean the conflict catch and became a
place that could unpack things that were happening geopolitically they seem quite
distant you know as say the Iranian negotiating negotiations we're heating
up we could focus on Iran and kind of look at it in an incredibly different
perspective here in our own little footprint so it's it's a constant dance
of you know putting something out and watching you
know what happens you all work in a medium that didn't really exist
historically this space between art and technology and the public space well I
shouldn't say that it always existed but there aren't necessarily institutions to
support it all over the place there isn't a moment are starting to move into
museums and but these are works that don't fit neatly into any established
package you can't open it at a Soho gallery and have a big party with wine
well I guess I'll start with desi you run an institution where you actually
can do this kind of stuff so where do you find like where do you find people
to do this kind of stuff for people who would want to make work like this what
are the career paths like for what do you tell people you're looking for at
the end a Warhol Museum so so in a role similar to mine there I mean these are
jobs that I'm one of the first people in this role at my museum I think museums
aren't very good at knowing what technology needs they need like people
who are running museums are often curators or come from that kind of
background so it's actually a really fantastic opportunity to be a novice and
just start from the beginning and just test out an experiment and they didn't
know that I lacked a lot of the skills that I need for my job when I started
it's really cool I learned it on the job but I do think that so you're asking
like what are we looking for what do we need well looking skill you were most
lacking just like kind of boring like servers and stuff like that that you can
figure out right I mean sorry if you're into servers
but yeah I think what what museums are looking for is people who are creative
people who are also sensitive to the content we're working with right like
we're at my Museum where we have the legacy of this one artist and his heart
is like because work is really complex there are many ways you could tell this
story so we want someone who is really interested in new technologies really
aware that Warhol experimented with technologies but also keeping his spirit
in mind and in an authentic Warhol was kind of authentic kind of not but
keeping that in mind when we're creating these new experiences Paulo when you
have a new game out where do you show it where did where do you premiere it yeah
I know that's an interesting question and I'm actually quite into that kind of
question actually yeah so games have been in and out of galleries for like
like 20 years at least so it's not completely unseen that you have an
opening and so like with tipping you know sipping wine and playing a game my
problem is that and if there has been a push to where the institutionalization
oh let's recognize and you know this thing as a design and they are like
there is pac-man in the MoMA and so on they are like in the design and
furniture section but it is in the moment the problem with that is that
they don't sit very well in the MoMA like if they don't sit very well in
there's like white spaces and what I'm working on right now I never unknown sit
I don't well what I'm working right now is like
essentially like creating a different kind of space and kind of like try to
disrupt a bit the white cube in the same way if you think the essentially video
art in order to be enjoyed in a gallery had to sort of like transform and you
know that's why you you sometimes have like sort of like small cinemas or you
have more like a paradigm of like a complete darkness in a gallery so you
can have a projection and so on so I'm thinking of like what would that be for
interactive artworks that might not be you know hanging on a wall or might not
be enjoyable in you know in like in just like three seconds or like you know
without with a glance and maybe they require a little bit more time and yeah
the response is that I'm basically like turning my garage into a gallery for
video games so stay tuned I was I mean I was gonna ask if there was gonna you
people thought there would be dedicated institutions for this kind of
multidisciplinary work and it sounds like the first one is opening garage
there are different models in several cities it will be probably the first one
in Pittsburgh John when you've completed this project you've got God knows how
many hours of live streamed video you've got photographs you've got just like
tons of stuff how do you think about repackaging that not for the audience
who saw who experienced it in real time but someone like our audience here who
who are experiencing in retrospect yeah it's a challenge I mean there's sort of
like the indigenous audience that experiences these things and but as
artists we're really conscious and have always been about how stories are told
in different ways even the same story can be told in different contexts and
have different meanings so you know for some people just the title of things
like I mean just the title conflict kitchen has an e vocation for people in
you know portugal and without actually experiencing the project and that's fine
for me I mean linka clayton who's going to speak later and i just finished a
project in new york which is called a talking parrot a punjabi TV show high
school drama class a museum artwork a congregations call to action and the
oldest song in the world circled through new york done
so I mean you know there's something to me really evocative in the title but the
project was like massive six-month undertaking with millions of things
going on and so I think it's okay that you don't have to be there and it's okay
that there's definitely in the art world a kind of you know the aura of an object
that moves around and has this quality that can be traded on the market and I'm
frankly just not that compelled by it what what kind of reactions do you get
when you cross these boundaries between tech and art in the public space I'm
curious like what kind of reactions more technology-based like for instance like
your cran piece how does that how does that play to a tech audience versus a
art audience and is there any distinction I mean yeah of course
there's a distinction and can I answer your question a little bit differently
you can actually just go wherever you like I mean there's yeah I think I do
think that in art museums so I was I thought you were gonna go in this
direction or at least this is something I faced a lot is that there can be a
resistance to technology outside of art museums there's a resistance to art and
contemporary that's what I was really asking except I was trying to not make a
negative yeah the question it's interesting to see where that comes from
and to see why people feel that way and I I do agree you know there is sometimes
there is a we're using technology in places where we don't need it but there
are ways in which technology can has really I don't know I think about our
our audio guide and the tactile reproductions where we are able to make
the museum accessible to the visually impaired community here in Pittsburgh by
by offering these things I think there's a lot of writing in kind of like museum
reviews and art criticism about museums being overly enthusiastic about digital
and and I also you know I love my working with technology and working
digital engagement by just as much love designing solutions that don't require
technology I mean the same some of the same stuff
applies to something like games where you can have an academically dense
treatise about a game and then you open it up to you know the reddit forum of
the world and it's a different kind of response what's it like making work for
both of those audiences when it started it was weird I mean like
people thought it was weird and there was a little bit of pushback and I
better still like kind of like a lot of backlash or like keep your politics out
of my games you know like my hobby and especially when when the create game
creators are for example like women or people coming from marginalized
communities and role and there you have like the sort of like the gamer dude
being like very upset about that kind of like girls like feminists stealing like
toys and things like that I think things are getting a little bit better to be
honest but to me part of the necessary conversation is to recasts or remind
that games are not really technological objects bar but they are more related to
you know play and games that you know predates taking digital technology it's
pretty day it's even like language and culture because even like animals play
you know they so that's to me part of the kind of like reframing like
videogames are not just like digital media's but they are like part of this
like in long tradition so I think we're on our last question here so I'll put
out to John it's a similar question which is if maybe Paulo irritates some
gamers with his games I would imagine that you confuse a certain amount of the
population with these works when someone walks into the waffle shop and there's
not waffles there's a live stream and they say what is this
what are you doing how do you explain your work well there is waffles no I'm
sorry we're waffles it's not only work – no there are definitely waffles and
the live stream you explain there are waffles yeah I mean I'm yeah I mean the
language is I'm using or common they're shared
they're not hard to interpret yeah so I'm rearranging them in ways that
they're not normally existing and and I might be speaking about subjects that
aren't usually presented in public life but I find it very easy I mean I find it
sometimes more difficult when I'm in a museum where people are sort of over
interpreting and and missing the kind of humanity that's the entry point of the
work and just sort of looking for criticality as its as its point I was
also just maybe just – back to this question of like how does technology
affect work that kind of happens in real life like the last billboard is a funny
project because it's completely unbranded there's no way you don't even
know most people have no idea I'm involved with it it's just up there and
it magically and but yet it has 50,000 followers on a tumblr so it's like when
I post it on the website which is a Tumblr site it has this huge weird you
know fourteen-year-old following uh-huh and then then it has this kind of
strange mystery following in Pittsburgh where they don't really know what's
going on and I like those kind of universes can collide and the same thing
with something like conflict kitchen where it has a massive international
following to it but it's very much the you know kind of like when I throw the
rock into the pond the first ripple needs to happen here
but I'm conscious that all the subsequent ones are just as valuable and
and you know certain technologies kind of expand that you know the capacity of
the stone to resonate well thank you to all the panelists Thank You Aaron and our panelists our
next speaker I'm sure some of you might know Molly right cincin is a designer
writer and international speaker whose work focuses on the intersection of
architecture design and artificial intelligence she's an associate
professor at CMU School of Design welcome Molly to the stage hi
so I spend a lot of time thinking about AI and design and I'm struck by the fact
that maybe it isn't always so straightforward for how designers are
going to end up working with AI but I have to say one thing about this event
especially seeing how Madelyn kicked off everything we start seeing some really
great opportunities for how we think about the interactions between people
and machines and human centered design in AI but if we ask Google as in
google.com not Google span what does AI look like we get pictures like this and
I have to admit I've started collecting them you noticed there always this kind of
blue right and there's this vortex II head if anyone here has ever listened to
the Bancroft Varrick it looks like looks like they're old videos from the 80s
here's that blue again I'm not sure what's going on with this hand then there's cyborg lady
I like cyborg lady a lot this is apparently jQuery going on over her face
so I'm not sure what that says about the future and when they do a google image
search this comes up and like look at this they all you see that seem blue and
that black and the ghosty cyborg II faces and everything like that if we
look at movies I'm not sure that it's really all that much better you know the
place we all start is Minority Report and everybody probably saw her and so
here we see a drop cane Phoenix being bummed out if she's waiting for for his
his new assistant to download or you get the fembot the fembot cliche is a big
one so ex machina a very interesting movie beautiful location in Norway
creepy protagonist creepy bot and the mother or father of them all Hal 9000
I'm sorry Dave I can't do that if you think about it too how it came out in
1968 and so what if we look instead for AI is the new so we get AI is the new
black AI is the new UI McKenzie says that artificial intelligence is the new
the next digital frontier and ruing says AI is the new electricity but now he's
left Baidu and he is he's doing an online course called deep learning day I
to educate people to take part in an AI powered society you need data for AI to
be possible in any of its senses so data is the new oil then we get other kinds
of things like this one the future of computers is the mind of a toddler or
this really freaky disembodied head and when I type in AI invents I get a
couple of interesting responses it events language recipes it events its
own language Google I'm sorry you didn't actually invent AI but I'll get to that
in a second and some of the people around here who have seen me talking
classes since the beginning of the school year might know this AI can
invent colors so Janelle Shan a researcher fed a neural network a bunch
of color names and RGB values from paint swatches like from the paint store and
it came up with names like verbal simp and stu me brown stoner blue i'm not
sure if you've got a favorite there's one called dope another called testing
she's also come up with things like 80s band names action figure names death
metal band names and pokemons names and guinea pig names and sometimes she puts
them all together to invent even more new things we see things like the future
of robotic communication Facebook's AI bots invented a new language and started
talking to each other and that got shut down you might have heard about this in
the last couple of weeks and it even turns out that I am AI the grid AI has
Molly they're AI web designer and Golan Levin took umbrage at this this really
sexualized embarrassing AI bots that will never ghost you will always take
your calls so it's really kind of awful and embarrassing and the fact is at the
end of it all is people like Elon Musk are saying that this is a new era of
artificial intelligence and the fact is that AI isn't the new anything because
AI isn't new so if we look back to where AI comes from its 1955 when John
McCarthy coins the term artificial intelligence there were a couple of
other names in contention at that point in time Tom automata studies lost out
probably better for the rest of us and he referred to it as making machines do
things that would require intelligence if done by man
and in the summer of 1956 he gathered a group of researchers together at
Dartmouth University Dartmouth College to work on the kind of the platform of
research interest for AI and these included things like neural networks and
machine learning and game playing 1956 and if you look closely in this picture
you'll see people like Ivan Sutherland Marvin Minsky's in there Frank
Rosenblatt a number of the AI pioneers got together then so that's how old this
stuff is about your parents age maybe grandparents and it's even older than
that Arthur Samuel came up with they came up with popularize the term machine
learning starting in 1952 and he studied how when he taught a machine how to play
checkers and so the machine would learn from itself
and grow and change and over time it would play a better game of checkers
than the person who wrote the program in 1958 we get neural nets and perceptrons
coming in the work of Frank Rosenblatt and in 1961 Marvin Minsky who's the
co-founder of the MIT AI lab and was at MIT until his death last year he said
that I believe that we were on the threshold of an era that will be
strongly influenced and quite possibly dominated by intelligent problem-solving
machines it's kind of funny it's like what Ellen musk said that we're at the
verge of a new era in artificial intelligence but this is what Marvin
Minsky had to say in 1961 so what does that mean for designers the fact is that
AI and design are not strangers in fact they're friends and also old friends and
I come in it from an angle of architecture where architecture and AI
collaborated with the number of different different crossovers that's
the subject of my upcoming book architectural intelligence it'll be out
in November but I wanted to tell you about two two people or two groups of
people the first one the guy with the windshield wipers on his on his glasses
the cedric price and the second one is Nicholas Negroponte a Nicholas
Negroponte II you might be familiar with because he founded the MIT Media Lab but
before that he a group called the architecture machine
group and the architecture machine group worked very closely in collaboration
with the AI lab at MIT starting in 1967 to develop interfaces for artificial
intelligence so Cedric price this is the architect that you may not have heard of
but I think he's the secret patron saint of interaction designers he's not known
for what he built in fact he didn't build very much one of the things he did
build was the Snowden aviary at the London Zoo so you might see that there
if you go to the London Zoo and he had this idea with this structure that maybe
he could put it there and then maybe you could eventually remove it and maybe the
birds would stay or maybe they wouldn't and he kind of didn't care because he
would say things like technology is the answer but what was the question and
maybe he'd say you don't need a new house maybe you need a divorce maybe you
need a walk in the park he belonged to RIBA the the Royal Institute of British
Architects and also the British demolition Society and he was the only
architect to belong to both so you see he's so much fun this is an image from
the fun palace and it was it's what he's probably best known for and between 1963
and 1970 he and Joan Littlewood tried to get it built Joan Littlewood is the is a
or was a radical British director stage director and a protege of bertolt brecht
and the deal with the fun palaces all of these parts were mobile and you could
combine them to do whatever you wanted it was kind of a leisure center because
in the 60s they were addressing the fact that maybe automation was going to put
us all out of jobs sound familiar and we'd need to find
things to replace them and so maybe we'd want to come to a place like fun Palace
which was like a theatre or a school but not a school or something some really
kind of crazy interesting place and he convened a cybernetic committee to be a
part of the fun Palace one of the things the cybernetic committee did is built
this the schematic of how people would interact in moving through the
palace if you look here you might see that it says input of unmodified people
output of modified people you interact with the building it interacts with you
you change the building it learns what you want it changes in accordance to
your preferences and changes you – this is a pretty radical idea and part of
these ideas came because Cedric price worked closely with a guy named Gordon
Pasque and Gordon passed beyond being pretty out there with someone who had a
very interesting idea of how to turn on a head on its head our design paradigms
so he wrote on this article in 1969 let us turn the design paradigm in upon
itself let us apply it to the interaction between the designer and the
system she designs rather than the interaction between the system and the
people who inhabit it that's a different thing like think of when you're using
Photoshop you expect it to do your bidding what if it starts doing
something different what if the possibilities emerge are something that
you couldn't think of on your own and it couldn't do on its own maybe it's
something different altogether there's a project that Cedric price did later on
again it wasn't built in 1976 called generator and generator was to be in the
Florida Panhandle it was going to be a site with a bunch of cubes sort of 12
foot by 12 foot cubes walkways ramps barriers you see a rendering of what it
might have looked like there again therefore whatever you might like to do
in an arts retreat and in fact they solicited a lot of questions and
possibilities of what people could do with the space he had quizzes and games
to kind of figure it out these get put together in menus for
generator and I love these drawings because they tell stories if you look
down here it says this one particular intersection of pathways that maybe you
would be wandering in generator say excellent full of event and taught
action and this round one here very good walk
around to all the angles so you generator would have a number of layouts
from the get-go and you could then make changes to generator as per what you
wanted to do so he was very fascinated with mobile cranes and these mobile
cranes would come and move the parts of generator again on this grid so it would
come together something like this and then finally you've got the you've got
your front panels and some steps and you can hang out you realized along the way
even though he had kind of a cruise director who had a social role who would
have encouraged people to change generator the people tend not to ask
their architecture to move around for them so he started working with John and
Julia Fraser who were computer scientists on a set of
programs for generator and there were four programs that they proposed one is
a perpetual architect which were the rules for the components and structures
of generator when one was an inventory of all of the equipment so all of the
equipment would have sensors on it would have microcontrollers so they could
report whether they were in use and where and again I'll remind you that
this is 1978 at this point so this is this is decades ago
number three what you see right here is a modeling kit you could move around
these Plexiglas blocks and it would plot on the computer screen and it would
print out so that was also quite quite unusual but the fourth one and it's
something that you might have seen with Nemeth and Madeline Ganon's talk was the
boredom program in the event of the site not being reorganized or changed for
some time the computer starts generating unsolicited plans and improvements and
in a letter to Cedric price John Fraser wrote if you kick a system the very
least you would expect it to do is kick you back and then in the letter in
handwriting he said you seemed to imply that we were only useful if we produce
results that you did not expect I think this leads to some
condition of computer aids in general at least one thing that you would expect
from any half-decent program is that it should produce at least one plan you did
not expect so what does that tell us generator is considered to be hmm
excuse me one of the first examples of an intelligent building and there have
been a number of people over the years who suggested that it might have been
the first start of the first proposal for an artificially intelligent building
unfortunately the project was cancelled but John Fraser tried to work with
Cedric price until Cedric prices death in 2003 to get this built and today we
might actually have the possibility of being able to do it with the technology
that we have alright so Nicholas Negroponte a lots of pictures and lots
of gestures here of Nicholas and he founded the MIT architecture machine
group with his colleague Leon grocer in 1967 and the architecture machine group
I should mention was half engineers and half architects at MIT they worked very
closely as I mentioned with the AI lab at MIT and collaborated to design
interfaces for artificial intelligence project projects and they were also
defense funded in the same way that the AI lab mostly was so the things that the
architecture machine group built were things that the Office of Naval Research
or DARPA were interested in and one of the first things oh I I want to go back
one slide he wrote a book in nineteen nineteen seventy called the architecture
machine and he dedicated that book to the first machine that can appreciate
the gesture so when you see the images that I had before of him and all of his
pointing there's always a gesture in his images and this is this book is actually
a theory of artificial intelligence in architecture one of the first projects
that the architecture machine group did was a project called urban 5 and it was
a conversational user interface for architecture for architectural design
and what the user would do is is point with a light pen and us and
move blocks around and then assign certain modes to the block so you can
see right here that there's a set of buttons that you could push to assign
certain modes to these blocks and you'd have a conversation with the computer in
order to do this design work and you see other images here these are from the
architecture machine and then you'll also notice that there's one image that
says Ted many conflicts are occurring and I don't know how many of you have
tried to design a chatbot or a conversational user interface but you
know it's really hard and it turns out it was really hard in 1965 with Joseph
Weizenbaum and Eliza and it was really hard in 1972
Ted many conflicts are occurring I did mention again that Minsky Marvin
Minsky and Seymour Papert were very very close friends of
Negroponte II throughout their lives and negroponte II worked closely with Minsky
and the AI lab this is a robotic arm that's stacking stacking blocks and in
1970 at the software show at the Jewish Museum the architecture machine group
had a piece called seek and you'll notice here again that robotic arm
another version of that robotic arm that we saw with Marvin Minsky is stacking
these mirrored blocks and if you look closely down in front you'll see that
there are some inhabitants in this mirrored block city there are gerbils do
you see the gerbils and the gerbils do what gerbils do which is to nuns around
blocks and make a mess and the blocks and seek did what they're meant to do
which is stack the blocks and if you it's difficult to see but here in the
lower corner it says gerbils match wits with computer with computer built
environment and this is a gatefold of the software show catalog life in a
computerized environment and the project wasn't successful for a number of
reasons and for that matter the entire software show was not successful it
almost bankrupted the Jewish Museum and I think that Ted Nelson's quote the
father of hypertext from one of the essays in the book says it pretty well
our bodies are hardware in our behavior software and that tended to be really
true because seek tended to kill the gerbils a little bit of a hard handed
lesson there I don't have time to go into detail about all of architecture
machine groups work they were an operation from sixty-seven to nineteen
eighty four when they rolled into the MIT Media Lab and became four of the
first eleven labs at the Media Lab when it when it first opened in the mid 80s
but I just wanted to show you quickly other things that we see projects like
Aspen movie map where they strapped a movie camera to a jeep recorded images
in Aspen saved them to video discs you know those big round record LP record
looking discs and then they made kind of a pro dos Google Streetview you could
sit in this Eames lounge chair and drive using touch pads
so joysticks in the armchair and zoom down the streets of Aspen while
following yourself on a map on either side in this media environment called
the media room they also did a lot of work with digital mapping and these were
intended to be Battlefield Maps the previous project of course is remote
sensing and remote surveillance possibilities and so this million dollar
project that was recognized a decade later is sure looks like an iPad it's a
Westinghouse window and it's a set of digital layered maps with different
kinds of haptic feedback so I have to I don't know if she's here but I got this
from jian-yang who is a PhD student in HCI I hear so
it's one of my favorite things so how do we get beyond the cliches and
how do we get back to some of these bigger questions that we see in the
basis of the work that architects and AI researchers were doing in the 60s 70s
and 80s I read this article a couple weeks ago in the New York Times the
writer said that AI is stuck and here's how to move it forward and he was saying
one problem is a lot of AI tends to be top-down well I think designers are
certainly good at understanding context and designing bottom-up he also shortens
things and and kind of has is fairly short-sighted in terms of how he thinks
about funding I think that this writer should be thinking about designers and
architects so it begs the question of what happens if AI and design combine
forces again there's that question of top-down and bottom-up there's a
question of what designers can teach about how to use constraints creatively
we use constraints to our benefit or how we might challenge the machine or the
user or the programmer or the designer and these problems are really hard to
solve not least because most designers are not algorithmically inclined and
it's there aren't a lot of tools at hand for us to get our hands on directly
today I think in the next couple of days you'll see different approaches that
people are taking but it's still challenging so I think we need to try
different approaches but I keep coming back to this question of the cliches and
I think that cliches only go so far but AI needs designers and for that matter
AI needs us if you're interested in these ideas my book comes out on
November 11th and there's a link here to it and it's on my Twitter feed as well I
go into a lot more detail about this and other AI and design architecture
connections and I'll say thank you very much Thank You Molly I promised that no
gerbils were hurt in the making of span but in all seriousness Molly's Molly has
our excerpt actually an hour span reader which will come in your swag bags
tomorrow when you pick them up it's excellent and I'm sure the entire book
will be excellent but you can get a taste of it we're gonna take a short 15
minute break but before we do I just want to remind you again the span
hashtag span 17 if you want to follow along in the conversation or share any
of your observations but it's up to hear from you and it's also a really great
time to pick up your poster if you are number if you have number one through 68
on your badge so go enjoy drinks welcome back welcome back to our live stream
viewers I hope you guys all enjoy your break and for people who are watching at
home I hope that you're paying attention to the slide behind me because it has a
very special message for you related to winning things from us so please pay
attention to the slide behind me our next panelists will shed a unique light
on what it means to run an independent design practice in Pittsburgh Ilana
Schlenker is an independent graphic designer working with clients and arts
publishing a nonprofit sector as well as self initiated projects like gratuitous
type as she calls it an occasional pamphlet for type type of what is the
type of graphic smut it's actually just a really cool magazine that she
publishes and edits and designs on her own Jacob Marcy Co is an interaction
designer and creative technologist he runs ultra low res studio an arts
engineering firm that designs and builds dynamic experience installation
integrated with the built environment linka Clayton is a conceptual artist an
educator who's interdisciplinary work considers exaggerates and alters
accepted rules of everyday life she is the founder of an artist residency and
motherhood a self-directed open source artist residency to empower and inspire
artists who are also mothers Brett Yasko is an independent graphic designer who
works with artists curators writers and educators from a one-person studio his
clients include Carnegie Museum of Arts Massimo Caprice an architectural press
and many others the panel will be moderated by Javier Lopez a visual
designer on the material design team based out of San Francisco
welcome Javier and the panelists all right so hey everybody um is this
working is everybody listening okay cool how's the break I'm hoping it
was good well nice nice so my name is Javier Lopez I'm a designer and the
material design team here at Google material design is an is a user
interface design system used by Google and external products I'm a systems
designer I'm fascinated with the ways in which we as designers get to interact
with and organize the world's information do they expand lists are a
very interesting bunch that is are very deeply familiar with the ways in which
we design for everyday life their practices both blend and define what is
it what does it mean to practice design in a contemporary studio from
installations to self-publish magazines to documentaries to projects that extend
the familiar into the poetic and the absurd it is my very fresh pleasure and
honor to welcome a Lancashire anchor Jacob marceca linka Clayton and Betty
ASCO so okay so without much further ado I'm just gonna let you take it okay hi
everyone I am Yelena Schlenker I want to for jump into it thank the
Google design team for having me especially for putting me on such an
amazing panel of people I've admired for a long time there's a delay
I run the studio I have to see what it says to know what I do I guess I read I
run a studio Ilana Schlenker which is a small intentionally unspecialized
practice based here in Pittsburgh and also very very part-time in Brooklyn
where I live before I moved to Pittsburgh three years ago my prior to
going on my own full-time I which was about four years ago now I worked at
Conde Nast and Princeton Architectural press an independent publisher now I do
a lot of print projects mostly with other independent publishers and I
published my own magazine so while the foundation of my practice is very much
rooted in editorial design and print I've always deliberately sought out a
wider range of projects so I'm engaged in a lot of branding I do a lot of
interactive work mostly web design and it's it's really important to me that I
kind of maintained this unspecialized practice because working across these
different mediums really helps me bring a fresh perspective to each one and then
in terms of the structure of my studio because I think that's what we're sort
of chatting about today I maintain a very small operation it's mostly me and
then you know occasionally a part-time person and a part-time studio manager
sometimes I collaborate with my studio mate in Brooklyn Mark Bernice's came out
hey Mark and I do this because it's really important to me to stay small so
that I have the freedom to pursue my own personal projects and other
opportunities to work outside of the studio so my longest running personal
project is gratuitous type which is a magazine I've been publishing since 2011
it features projects and interviews from creatives all over the world mostly
graphic designers and type designers but gratuitous type was sort of born out of
my malaise working in that conde nast where I was I did branding and some
collateral but I mostly did an advertorial design which was fairly
soul-sucking and it involved kind of finding
elaborate ways to make like bottles of shampoo look kind of interesting and so
just feeling very creatively frustrated and having a having loved magazines for
a very long time I started thinking about channeling some of that unused
creative energy into a magazine project at the same time I sort of had this
observation where there's this phenomena of just throwing a big letter on a page
and every designer who sees it is like that's beautiful and I and there's
nothing wrong with it I do it I'll do it tomorrow probably but you know I just
started to think about the idea of a letter being so titillating that it
needed to be censored and that's kind of how I found my way to this first cover
of who does type and also like sort of a more overarching concept for the
magazine that so this first issue has this paper wrap that obscures the letter
underneath as if it were hiding something really scandalous but of
course it's just like this totally innocuous letter a and I liked this
approach in part because it kind of made it clear that this magazine didn't take
itself too seriously which i think is also a broader theme in my practice just
having a sense of humor about myself and my work but also at the time I was
really an experienced and also you know of course there's already all of these
amazing magazines out there and so I had all these fears about people questioning
and I like I've imagined all these criticisms that they would have about
the magazine and so gratuitous type was the name was a way of kind of
acknowledging this criticism that didn't exist but in kind of doing so hopefully
disarming it disarming it so it's sort of like a joke and an apology
but beyond the name contextualizing the magazine in the world of the
pornographic lets me have a lot of fun with other conventions of the genre so
it gives me a language and a framework to kind of build the magazine around and
then it lets me do is it gonna play Eragon
it lets me do super highbrow stuff like this
Tim Lahan is an artist who was featured in issue four and he made this for me as
a loading graphic for the websites so I'm very mature so now I've done four
and a half issues ACC appear as a themed issue it was a color issue this is issue
for the last full issue that I've done I don't have a ton of time to show you all
the interiors but something worth noting is that they're all each issue I totally
redesign so the size stays the same but otherwise all of the production details
everything else is sort of up for grabs and I will be honest and say
there's no bigger conceptual thought around that then it's just a lot more
fun for me to change it every time so this is now the most recent issue it's
issue four point five I also like to make it really confusing I guess but
there's just been there's been so many interesting topics that come up along
the way and doing this magazine that often kind of go beyond the world of
graphic design and I just I wanted to make this kind of supplement that use
some of those topics as a jumping-off point for new new articles and this
little miniature publication so you can see it's it's much simpler it's one
color and this amber mentioned that I do everything myself for this supplement I
actually hired some writers so that's like sort of a fun change for me to UM
but yeah that's that's gratuitous type and then moving on to a project that's
kind of also jumping out of the world of graphic beyond the world of graphic
design is less than 100 which is the traveling pop-up shop I created to
promote gender wage parody the first shop was in Pittsburgh the second was in
New Orleans and everything sold in the shop is designed by women in Pittsburgh
that included Blanka an amazing link and the idea is that the shops pricing helps
to make the wage gap more tangible so there are two prices on every item when
for men and one for anyone identifying as a woman or non-binary individual the
second price reflects the wage gap in that location so in Pennsylvania where
women earn 76 percent of what men make they paid 76 percent of the price of any
item in the shop and in Louisiana they paid 66 percent which is like pretty
fucking crazy okay I don't know it's not the radio I don't know anyway
you can send the FCC you go to me no no anyway in in addition having items for
sale there is a free newspaper of that elaborated on the issue we had events
like a negotiation workshop artist visits and talks we even did things like
having an on-site manicurist in the New Orleans shop which was really fun and
then finally wrapping up because I am probably going long
most recently if it advanced I the most recent project I've
undertaken outside of the studio that's a little bit of a different thing is
working for three months last fall as a designer in residence at the Facebook
analog research lab in Menlo Park California and while I was there I sort
of pursued my own work and then also created scenes and posters and
installations for the campus in response to specific briefs from the analog lab
so these posters are just a few of many things that I mean I haven't had an
opportunity to really document anything yet but it was a really amazing and
informative experience and being able to close up shop now and then to pursue
these different interests and opportunities for me as as essential as
the work that I do for clients so that's kind of the overview of what I do and
I'm excited about it thank you hi I'm Jake MARSOC oh there we go
so actually I don't pull out my notes I'm sorry you had your you prepared your
notes I did in advance so I am floud I am the principal at ultra low res studio
which is a design build firm kind of parts and engineering consulting and
when I say we I usually a lot but it's really just me although I do bring in
people quite often kind of to collaborate and then to kind of help
build out things I'm also an adjunct at CMU where I teach media architecture and
I co run a new art space in polish Hill called three five seven seven studios
along with Steve Girish and Alena Malkin and that studio is kind of focused on
new media work let's see here so I'm going to talk about a couple of the
projects that I've worked on over the past few years as ultra low res studio
to kind of give you an idea of what we're up to and the first is this series
of scape projects they have different names all involved in scape and they're
all these interactive landscapes and the first iteration of this
was at Radcliffe yard in on Harvard's campus it's a collaboration with show
architects and and what we kind of developed in this in this world was this
kind of surreal landscape which people kind of approached from afar it looked
really spooky at night and as they walked through this kind of augmented
environment they started to figure out how they fit in with this with this with
this world I'm kind of how these escapes were reacting to them then with him
after that permanent installation or semi-permanent installation we did kind
of a traveling version of it which went to DC and Cincinnati kind of with the
same intentions the next project is a permanent installation also a light
installation at an architectural scale but it's interactive but in a bit of a
different way this is at the Knoxville branch of the Carnegie Library here in
Pittsburgh which is near Mount Oliver it's essentially right down the street
from mount Oliver and this was this was a really cool project this branch was
being redesigned by gbbn edge architects here in Pittsburgh and they did a really
great job if you ever in the area kind of pop your head and it's a really funky
building from the 60s I think that they've done a great job of
reinterpreting but Julian Sandoval designed this really beautiful
parametrically designed perforated screen that kind of goes over the front
of of the windows of the facade and they wanted to add some dynamic lighting so
they reached out to me and threw him in a series of design meetings and
exercises with Toby Greenwald from the Carnegie Library who's the head of
digital strategy there and the architects we figured out that we didn't
really want this to be interactive in any sort of traditional sense but we did
want it to be future-proof we didn't have the resources to do everything we
wanted but we knew that at some we wanted to add to it so this this
installation has we developed the kind of an API for it and and this allowed
people to kind of build appendages to extend the functionality of the wall and
actually some of the students this student who made this project is sitting
right here in the front some CMU students kind of through
projects they built these physical interactions that then interacted with
that wall so along with these kind of light installations I also like kind of
doing more exploratory or what's what's a good word I had here might not be that
I like doing these other exercises where I kind of try to just learn more about
how I can use this type of media that I'm interested in and this is a piece
that is at the butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown and the
question that I'm kind of asking with this project is kind of how low can you
go in terms of resolution when recreating video so with this project
they're in this stairwell there's big beautiful windows that look out to this
massive tree and if you ever watch trees big trees in the wind
it's his incredibly complex highly detailed motion and kind of the question
was could I translate that motion into nine binary pixels so we have smart
glasses switches on or off so there's like zero color depth and it's nine nine
of them the answer is no it doesn't translate at all it's like totally
illegible but you know you get you it's cool that we can do this right we can
take these kind of complex inputs and trim them down and filter them down into
something that's still beautiful it might not be as evocative of the input
as we had hoped but we're still kind of doing this motion translation and that's
a big part of what I'm interested in oh I didn't even play the video I'm
sorry yeah so this smart glass isn't really cool
material and I can show you these things later where you can check it out on the
website okay moving on I also do stage art or event stuff you know events are a
really big market and you know I like doing things that scale and and I like
working with I guess you could say the private sector I think it's it's always
interesting when when Commission's come through from non-institutional people
it's just kind of a different way of working and it's a different back and
forth and it's a different payment structure all this so this is the
abstractions conference that happened last year this was commissioned by
Justin Reese from code and supply who was a great person to work with and
Justin wanted something that was that could act as kind of a slow-moving
backdrop to these keynote speakers this was a tech conference in Pittsburgh but
it could also be physically interactive that people could play with during the
during downtime and was social media connected so we kind of matched all of
these things this project was fun it's a big projection mapping project you know
20 screens one projector a Kinect and Twitter and kind of mashed all of this
stuff into some a piece of eye candy and we got this
and then this I'm going to quickly play this video it's a really busy fall it's
I'm super excited about what's coming up there's a light installation going into
wien Hall at Carnegie Mellon there is a data visualization project going into a
Financial Advisors office in the South Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh which I'm
super excited about mainly because it's a small office and it's amazing that an
office of that size in the suburbs of Pittsburgh is interested in
commissioning this type of work and then there's a big big I'm collaborating with
Chris Carlson in a performance and audio-visual performance this in
November for the what's on festival so that's it hello I'm linka Clayton I'm an
interdisciplinary artist I moved to Pittsburgh from London on the ninth of
the 9th 2009 so I just celebrated my eighth anniversary in Pittsburgh and I
think you just met John Ruben in the last panel so he's a collaborator of
mine I have an individual studio practice and I also work with different
people and John's one of those people so he just finished up a six-month project
for the Guggenheim but I'm based here and then I'd kind of
work all over the place I'm just going to share three recent projects with you
this is really cool when you press this button it lights up something in the
back and someone moves the slide forward so it's not actually and okay so I'm
giving away all the secret so this is from a series called typewriter drawings
for the last five years I've made drawings just using a portable
typewriter um every single mark in the drawing comes from the regular keys like
the punctuation and the letters I have to fold the paper and like put it
through the Machine hundreds of times in order to get the max that I'm looking
for this one's called my son's eyelashes so
maybe with the parentheses this is drinking straw in water this is Picasso signature that's made
with the period it's fake it's like totally fake
so the typewriter is an incredible tool at what it does but it's really really
shit at drawing it's really hard to draw it and in that sort of creative battle I
found I find this amazing space to explore um this one's called big flowery
part and it's um it's made with every single key on a typewriter and if I
don't know if you have this fan reader but but there's a few more in there if
you want to see them and there's I've made three hundred drawings so there's a
lot on my website so limitation is also a major subject of this project which is
called an artist residency and motherhood which is so six years ago I
had my first child I have two kids and I would look at that period when I was
about to have kids I was looking for like I was typing in like artists
parents you know looking for role models like how the hell do you do those two
things at the same time and I didn't find anything or hardly anything there
was like one project from the 70s that people kept referencing to me and I was
like that's older than me like where of all where are all the other artists
parents and so when I had kids I realized that a lot of the professional
things that I kind of leant on like residences were suddenly closed off you
know like people didn't want artists to come and bring their families with them
to residency's so my response was to create my own residency which happened
instead of here where a normal residency might be this is like rural Switzerland
we'd go and live in a cabin and like have this beautiful creative time and my
residency happens here this is my son also it happens in my life and home as a
parent so I stay where I am and I reframe my experience as a parent as
material to make make work out of rather than something to stop me working
so I wrote a manifesto and I got funding and I made business cards because that's
how you start everything and this in May the one on the left's main and these are
my kids so have two kids kids business cards um and I made 32 projects so over
two years I was an artist in residence in motherhood and I made 32 projects so
this is an example of one of them is a sculpture called 63 objects taken from
my son's mouth they say anything else about so then two years ago no on
Mother's Day sorry 2016 I opened the residency up to
anybody who wanted to take part so it's a website and a framework that you can
run through and adapt for yourself and there are currently 400 artists and
residents in motherhood's which is like my proudest thing in 34 countries all
over the world so if you're interested artist residency and motherhood calm and
you can look on each one of these red markers is somebody who's doing the
residency and they if you click on it they have the dates they're doing the
residency in their website so it's this sort of big networking tool and also a
tool to give visibility because what I found like when I was looking when I was
pregnant is it's it's invisible you know artists who have kids especially women
as an invisible situation so the last thing I want to show you is two new
pieces that I made this year in collaboration with the fabric workshop
and Museum which is a incredible institution in Philadelphia I was an
artist in residence there and both pieces relate to this sculpture which is
not mine unfortunately this is Bay I'm Constantin Brancusi and it's a piece
called the sculpture for the blind and this was a starting point for me I was
really drawn to it in particular because of its title and so I went to see it at
the Philadelphia Museum of Art here it is and I found this wonderful situation
where the sculpture for the blind is shown inside a glass box so it's only
available to the sighted so all of my work starts
an existing situation in the real world that I then respond to so that was my
starting point and I decided that I was going to misinterpret Brent koozies
title as an instruction so how is I going to get this sculpture into the
hands of the blind and we exhausted every avenue you can think of like
borrowing the sculpture copying the sculpture having limited access it was
all like not possible so I used the tools that I had as a sighted person and
I went to see the sculpture and I wrote a really detailed description of it and
then I invited 17 people from Philadelphia who identify as blind to
make to listen to my description and then to carve what they heard or
understood from my words out of plaster blocks so this is one of the artists and
he was using yeah as you can see like traditional sculpting tools this woman
told me that no one had ever described anything to her in as much detail before so each person made their own the the
object that they understood from my description and then they were shown on
smaller versions of the original pedestal that the original stone on but
without the glass top so that the artists and visitors could experience
the project both you know with their eyes but also by touch the last piece
I'm going to show is a piece called unanswered letter so while I was
researching for the piece that I just showed you I found this incredible
letter in the archives of the Philadelphia Museum of Art it was
written in 1974 and it was sent to the curator at the time and essentially I
just paraphrase it quickly a member of the public called Brian Morgan tells
this beautiful story about his romanian great-grandfather who happened to come
from a village very close to where Brancusi came from and he also made a
white marble egg several years before francuzzi
and he was sort of wondering like what his question was what is it about
Brancusi that puts his sculpture in this museum
and seen by 2,000 people a day and my great-grandfather's identical sculpture
is on my desk and no one cares about it at all like what's the difference who
creates that value system and it was such a beautiful letter we found we
actually found him he's still alive and I spoke to him on the telephone I found
out that his letter was never answered so he sent it off and no one ever wrote
back so I am copied the letter a thousand times and sent it to museum
directors and curators all around the world and I invited them to reply 40
years late to Brian Morgan and to share their own particular perspective and
point of view 179 people replied we don't have time to read them all it's
going to be a book coming out in a few months but I actually copied the
original letter and a whole bunch of the replies and some of you have got them
under your seats to read later so thank you very much I apologize in advance for the any
delays and this I I did this wrong I have like a thousand images and very
little words and and I found out that there's this lag so will bear with me
alright we're good so um I've got to be one of the luckiest
guys in the world I get to work with artists curators writers photographers
each and every day I get to design books like this one a
bunch of artists and writers centered around the theme of wonder I get to do a
book like this for the artist Agnes bolt she set up this gift exchange between
Braddock North Dakota and Braddock Pennsylvania
these people were exchanging these gifts back and forth I get to do exhibitions
design exhibitions this one celebrated the photo book so it was part reading
room book shop library all in the former coat check room of the Carnegie Museum this exhibition was for the prolific
Charles teenie Harris photographed african-american life from the 1930s to
the 1970s a brilliant photographer but he didn't document his work at all he
didn't record the names of the people that were in his photographs so we
designed this exhibition so that people could come in and try to identify the
people that were in the photographs over a thousand photographs so people found
themselves they found their grandparents their uncles aunts and it really helped
the museum out and then I get to do crazy things like this this is let me
see this is a restaurant that only serves food for the countries that the
United States is in conflict with John showed this earlier conflict
kitchen different countries that had to change them out every few months but I'm
also really interested in self-initiating work so this is giving
myself a project it could be anything it could be telling a story or having
giving someone an experience or well lost my train of thought but the the the
the idea is that I still use the tools of graphic design to do this stuff but
there's no client and if there is a client I guess the client would be me
so some examples of this through the years I built this giant wall like
Donald Trump and I covered it with over 7,000 unique New Year's resolutions this
was set up on New Year's Eve so we had all these different
resolutions each one was different and people could scan the wall find a
resolution that resonated with them personally and then rip it off the wall
put it in their pocket and keep it throughout the year and then look back
and see if if they if they are actually actually kept it all right I did this
book of SHIVs that our prisoner made weapons I got this collection of ships
from a friend who I don't think came about it quite legally but we did this
book and put them down on a flatbed scanner and scanned about a hundred
percent real size so you could just have this idea of reaching out and putting
your hand around each one I love this one on the left it's a glove inside
another glove and there are these upholstery tacks on the knuckle so a guy
could make a fist scrape down through somebody's face and then straighten his
hand back out and there's no evidence of what just did the damage this one's on
the rights for lenka it's a carriage ripped out of a typewriter and sharpened
sharp Market Square is this place in downtown Pittsburgh that some some
people spend a great deal of their time down there days and nights and the city
had this idea to sort of clean it up to make it family-friendly so I went down
there and I spent about a week and a half with these people and I talked to
them and a lot of them were really upset about these plans and how it might
affect their lives because they spent so much time down there and so over the
course of two weeks with these lettered tiles I spelled out excerpts of the
conversations that we had that talked about how they felt about this place and
I sort of Christopher walled it so that it wasn't so easy to read he sort of had
to spend time with it to read it and over two weeks put each of these
excerpts in different corners of a square for hopefully other people to
read it didn't it didn't work they came in and bulldoze the place and there's no
there's no place to sit now I made this book for Billy Nardo's II he's
Pittsburgh's poet each Monday he goes down and plunks $100 down to have his
poetry published in the celebration section of the Pittsburgh post-gazette
he also includes a photo of himself and a phone number to call this is in the
book though it's hard to see but this part here is where I clip him out every
Monday I clip his poem out and I put a gold star where his photo should be in
the thing and I honestly didn't I loved him but I didn't realize what I called
following he had until I set up a series of poetry readings for him and so many
people showed up to hear him to hear him read and get their book signed and just
to meet him they also brought him presents like this wrist band
what would Billy nor does he do and then finally an experiment I did where I
invited 250 to Pittsburgh artists to each create a
portrait of one person my friend John rygart John is an artist himself but
he's bipolar and this really disconnected him from a
community of artists that he really was a big part of back in the day some of
the artists worked off of this photo that I sent them but a lot of artists
just wanted to meet him in person so we set up a bunch of group sittings where
John would come for the day and he'd be accommodating to anything that was asked
of him he was great we also the couple more of these the the artist also wanted
to meet Ella this is my one of my favorite people right there do you
recognize her there was also people that wanted to meet him at his house so we
brought people the artists out to his house and first in Millvale where he
lived with his girlfriend and then halfway through the project they broke
up there's my friend Lincoln they broke up and he moved to he moved to an
apartment in Lawrenceville so we continued the artist visits there in
Lawrenceville this guy this next one this guy's set up a green screen in his
kitchen but we also went to the artist house and studios they invited us into
their homes and studios and we just had so many really amazing interactions with
all these completely talented and generous people that that did this this
thing for us oh yeah this this is a kid going for about an hour on that story
made made a bunch of new friends and also saw some some old friends a couple floors sorry and we met in coffee shops
we met in parks we met in Botanical Gardens we met in
cemeteries we met on riverbanks we met in hospitals so many things
happened in the year and a half of his project but two that I'll share with you
we happened on this live drawing class and John decided right then and there
that he wanted to be the model and so for four exhausting hours exhausting for
me not for him he's that on this live drawing session he also was asked to
give a workshop on self portraiture so he told bunch of kids so this is him
showing Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait to this little boy on an iPad and then
of course he had asked all the kids to draw his portrait the portrait just
started coming in I wish I could show you all of them there were two hundred
and some but we didn't just have drawings and paintings and photographs
we had interactive pieces we had sculptures we had sound pieces we had
films and movies just some really really amazing stuff and then and then we had
an exhibition so this is John going into the opening of the exhibition so many of
his friends were there people that he hadn't seen in years were there we owe
his parents came down from Cincinnati to be there and then throughout the run of
the exhibition exhibition ran for about two months John was there every day he
came down on the bus and opened up the place and was the docent so I can
imagine somebody coming in seeing all these portraits of one person and then
turning around and there's John himself in the flesh and it blew people's minds
some people's minds but um but he was there and he answered questions and he
told stories of the project and of his life and yeah we also produced a monster
700 page book that documented the entire process Eric Lee gee who's in this photo
and in a bunch of photos that you probably saw that I showed he followed
the entire thing the entire thing and wrote this massive
massive essay that we combined with the photos that I took and also photos of
each portrait thanks right so I figured I you know we have a little bit of time
so I'm gonna just sneak in one question but I'm gonna start by by expressing my
condolences for a little violet for Lana I know I don't know if you guys know
about this but Lana has a pet squirrel and I'll let you take it from there
do you want me to talk about the squirrel sure why not um I first would
say I think I must cried like three times there's like such beautiful
projects and then yeah yeah I had a squirrel we found in her yard something
I love about Pittsburgh is it's a really wild city and so yeah I had a squirrel
but she passed away but we had really some really nice time so so now they are
all brought down yeah I can bring it up again no but it would the other thing
that I really wanted to cover with you guys is we are in Pittsburgh I know
lenka you you decided one day to move from the UK to the US mm-hmm and not
often do we hear somebody moving from London to Pittsburgh yeah so I came to Pittsburgh um
basically I had a vision so I was like living in London at the time and then I
was on the phone to my partner he lives from the states we were having that
conversation like where should we live what should we do you know that kind of
conversation and while we were having that conversation I saw the word
Pittsburgh written in my mind's eye so it was really in like three dimensional
letters I don't know if you know Kennywood but it looked like a Kennywood
carpenter had built them and I was like let's move to Pittsburgh and he was like
okay and so we like it took me nine months to get visa to move here
and then we basically turned up with like two suitcases
from the airport and yeah now it's eight years later so if you don't live here
you should it's really good but I know that you have been you're pretty much an
institution here in Pittsburgh whether you want to admit it or not long but I
would love you know we would love to hear about like the advantages and the
challenges of designing in Pittsburgh advantages the challenges of living in
Pittsburgh yeah-oh living and designing in Pittsburgh um well I'm sure it's the
same in any city but I on the advantages of I'll tell this story the story answer
your question I you guys know about making websites responsive is this a
thing so I was I was making my 12 year old web site responsive and um and so I
had a like look at this body of work that 15 years of work and not to sit
that I'd say this completely at the risk of sounding corny but I looked at that I
looked at all the work that I've done and I and I immediately I saw the
relationships I didn't see the work I just saw the people that were part of
those projects and that really that really struck me and I don't I don't
know if that's a Pittsburgh thing I mean there might be designers in other cities
that can say the same thing there might be Pittsburgh designers here they're
saying this guy is insane but um I don't lose fact I I just don't lose them I'm
just so appreciative that I get to work with people that that I respect and
admire and learn from but also enjoy keeping company with and I and I don't
know if that like I said I don't know if that speaks to Pittsburgh or not but
it's it's good for me I think there's a big sense of community and all the work
that you guys have shown that's definitely appealing and jumps out
straight up um with the last two minutes that I have for a question I'd really
want to touch on on the idea of like you guys have a lot of self started projects
and you blurring the line of what is it that a
designer does for a client versus what is it that a designer does for himself
or herself what why be and designer an author entrepreneur at this moment in
time and why in Pittsburgh sure well I guess I I guess I think the profession
of design attracts people who are interested in putting their hands into
all kinds of different things and being designer I get to kind of jump in and
learn about whatever it is that sort of comes along to me that in whatever
industry it happens to be in and I think being interested in authorship and
entrepreneurship and doing these self-initiated projects is just an
extension of that so it's less that I'm trying to be an entrepreneur make money
and it's more that so many things are interesting and interesting to me and I
have the strive to make things that doing it myself is just a way to
accomplish that so it's really that simple and in terms of why Pittsburgh I
mean I it's it's really easy to do things here and there's a lot of
resources and it also feels like it matters if you do it here whereas you
know coming from New York I would have never done less than 100 in New York to
start because there's just the barriers of affordable space and there's so many
other things going on and what have you but in Pittsburgh it was like I found
space but I was meeting with people to try to get just connected to other
people in one of those organizations the women and girls foundation was like do
you want some money for this and so it's just like yes and then so that's like
the kind of stuff that I feel like is the unique to Pittsburgh that things
like really great to pursue these sorts of projects saying Jake I know that
you're running your own studio and you're kind of leaving every young
designers dream by going on your own yeah I mean as far as entrepreneurship
you know I I don't like working for people it's probably true for most
people but you know I kind of made that decision before I went to grad school
and then you know the type of work that I do I think works
really well in Pittsburgh in general you know ten years ago this type of kind of
big tech architectural scale tech type stuff probably was not affordable for
second-tier sized cities like Pittsburgh or Cincinnati or Cleveland and I think
two things have happened since then is like the cost of doing that work has
come down quite a bit and the awareness of the existence of that type of work
has risen in places like Pittsburgh so it's not just like the creative director
of Google or you know people at that with that mindset are aware of this type
of work I think you know the the owner of a 30-person financial advisor
financial advisory in the South Hills is aware of it so for me Pittsburgh and the
this region is a kind of a it seems like a fairly fresh market and also on you
know I'm from here and my family's here it's nice to be here I have some
nostalgia I'm gonna in and I'm gonna close one one more question we live in a
in a world that is increasingly politicized in hyper politicized um do
you guys find yourself and this is something that I would like to hear from
all of you guys if do you find yourself self censoring or changing your opinions
before you put out any work in public I I don't but I I mean I've I've thought
about this and I had an experience in Pittsburgh with a printer who all of a
sudden said I can't work with you anymore because you you support Bernie
Sanders and LA it was really weird but I mean there is there it's a much less
liberal place than New York and so you do have to you know when you talk about
Donald Trump it's like ah you know like cuz you don't know who's on who like you
know so I mean there's that but I don't personally censor myself and I think I
guess I embrace that on social media my presence is me as much as it
is my studio and I'm fine with that lying blurring so I I don't maybe and
that's maybe why should I should because there's a lot of pictures of squirrels
up there right now and everyone's like if I were into graphic design and so I
don't know I don't censored myself I had a funny
experience that with that though the sculpture that I showed you the 63
objects taken from my son's mouth that had a set of weird life so it kind of
created the title and the collection of things in the next sort of which is the
point I really love in being an artist you kind of let go of it and it goes off
on some weird travel so it ended up being like acquired by a museum which
was funny so I have to go to a museum to see this like weird collection and then
ended up in different newspapers around the world and one of them was the Daily
Mail then if you're familiar and it was in the Daily Mail basically about like
an example of bad parenting and then it was crazy
I shouldn't have done this but I read the comments under the article and it
was just like I mean British people their favorite the national sport is
like criticizing other people's parenting and this was like an absolute
field day so that was a moment where I was like why did I do that
but otherwise no when I did when I did my Papa shop I read the comments and I
couldn't really upset about it for a while so I made the same yeah I'm not
gonna do it again I wonder where the comments after this panel if you have
anything to happen no but interesting story that I think of
when I hear that I've never censored myself but maybe I should but an
interesting story is conflict kitchen when they did Palestine when John and
Dawn decided to do Palestine they they had these death threats like they
literally had to shut it down because these they were getting these letters
that we're gonna blow up the restaurant and I was immediately frightened for
them but then I thought you know it names on that those my days uppers right
first like a four point type Brett yes go so I was afraid for about a day but
just seeing how John and Dawn handled that was just so amazing to me and and I
don't know if anybody followed it or Facebooks it or whatever you call it but
there was just like this they shut the restaurant down but there was this
outpouring of people coming down to the restaurant and pinning up notes of
support and rallying around even though they weren't selling food or rallying
around it and it just just made you feel really good about the city this country
and and where we are for a minute at least you know the work that I do isn't
really you know horrible you know it's like lights moving politically-motivated
but I will say that working in Pittsburgh is interesting because you
work with I work with a lot of kind of perhaps people or you know machine shops
or you know I think that companies like Richard rolls you know a steel rolling
company and you go into a lot of these shops and you know I don't know if
there's a Pittsburgh thing here but you go to a lot of these shops and there's
like clear decor that is very different that kind of shows their different
political beliefs and so I don't know if this is particularly a Pittsburgh thing
but you know it's sometimes you have to work with people that have very
different belief systems as you and I think it's actually an important I think
it's important sometimes to do that because you know we're in this position
now where we are so polarized that at least in my work that's one of my
favorite parts of my job is like meeting people who are not at Google span right
and people who have very different political beliefs and it kind of forces
me into these positions so yeah that's I guess might kind of pull it
cool if I can just add to that yeah that's something I really like about
Pittsburgh you know in in Brooklyn you're like go to a party and it's like
Oh what do you do I'm a graphic designer oh yeah me too and oh yeah you too and
here here it's like what what what do you do like I like my neighbors our
physical therapist and like they do other things and I feel like I am in a
real world not that like New York is not a real place it's like an amazing place
but I like I like the grounding of being somewhere where people don't give a shit
about what I do I really like that I'm gonna thank you
guys for today and this has been awesome and thank you very much thank you guys
thank you I'm really sad to say that Billy and our
dozy and mr.

John are not speaking but I'm really excited like I want to move
to Pittsburgh now so yeah I live in Brooklyn okay so thank you to our
panelists it says my name but I'm talking about other people thank you to
our panelists I just wanted to talk about what's happening tomorrow a little
bit before we break tomorrow will open at 9:00 a.m.

And there will be a light
breakfast of pastries and coffee for those of you who signed up for workshops
you should have received an email confirming that you got into a workshop
or not and for those of you not attending a workshop
do not fear we have lots of programming available for you to enjoy including
incredible demos from Disney research and Alamo meny as well as material
design reviews and code labs so if you would like to sign up for those we do
have an a registration a sign up at the registration desk that's I'm going to
open up about half of the slots so you can do that now we'll also have slots of
tomorrow so don't worry and these reviews and code labs happen in 15
minute durations and if none of that interests you you can just work from
span we will have Internet death space coffee I mean you really don't actually
need anything else to work so seriously come enjoy the space you can totally
hang out and of course I mean you know I'd like to talk about the swag bag but
we do have the swag tomorrow it will have the span meter in it a number of
the panelists and the last panel have work in there and others that you'll be
meeting tomorrow again you can always check the schedule at Chico /span 17 so
enjoy the food and drinks and we'll see you tomorrow

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