Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ode to the greatest city in america

these photos were in urbanite an issue or so ago. (daniel shea) there was just something about them that made me smile and sigh in agreement. so awkward. so baltimore.

i miss that place. watching the wire with my dad from my living room couch and listening to dan deacon as i drive down streets like south boulevard isn't exactly helping either... (not to mention this tigers/o's conflict of interest)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

when in doubt, put it in a folder and keep it forever

for so long, "coming home" has either meant living out of a suitcase or living out of boxes, both extremely successful methods of blocking out everything else in the room and avoiding the pre-college life it represents. for a while, i even avoided calling it home. i remember hating the first time i had to come back. it was just jarring. to be truly successful away from home, you have to completely detach yourself from that former self who lived there. and that's accompanied by avoiding a return at all costs. (even if one, you miss your family, or two, this new self gets burned out and could use a break.) this complicated transition is made even worse when you realize that you actually really like living in the new place and (seemingly) can't get enough of it.

right now, i'm home home. and it's hard. i'm either sleeping in insanely late or experiencing what i'm certain is insomnia. (fun stuff.) quite literally, i've gone from 100 mph to snail speed. even with so much to process after such a loaded year, my brain can't seem to really want to get going on any of it.

but in the course of the past 24 hours a few points have converged that have taken me to a state i've never been in before: a state of purging.

take one look at my room and it's clear i'm a pack rat. i save everything. pretty much every homework assignment, every gift i've ever gotten, every article of clothing i've ever owned. look around my house, and it's no suprise. we have too much stuff in too small a space. clothes are an espcially sticky area. maybe i can blame it on being without a younger sibling to pass them down to (kip doesn't count), but what i've ended up with is layers and layers of ages and styles and sizes all being saved as if they were a wedding dress. i have a hard time seeing them go, even if i haven't worn it in a year and especially if the price tag is still on. it's an odd guilt thing. they cost money. (thank you capitalist america.) so i find a way to ignore the guilt and compensate with hyper-organization. out of sight, out of mind? only, every space with four walls has a limit that eventually gets reached. which is point number one.

point number two: finding out that the annual neighborhood garage sale was today. if i had known any earlier than friday i am certain i would have overlooked it. (but talk yourself into it late friday night, and it's on.)

point number three: wise words from one john mayer found on his blog the other night. i copied and pasted without thinking twice, but suddenly it became a needed source of reassurance and encouragement.

"but to evolve you have to dismantle, and that means accepting the idea that nothing you've created in the past matters anymore, except that it brought you here."

and so the purging begins. here's hoping the less cluttered aftermath is liberating.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

one weekend: three things

top: an opening of "design for a living world" at the cooper hewitt national design museum in new york. i started interning at the tail end of this project (an abbott and ellen joint effort) but it was still pretty cool to see all of the stuff i saw them scheming at the studio in realized form. because they intend for the exhibition to travel, everything is modular, but still fits perfectly into the gallery space. (there are more pictures on the pentagram blog.)

middle: the international contemporary furniture fair at jacob javits convention center. one of kallie's environmental design teachers kept bugging her to go to this, so a few of us decided to make a day of it and tag along. the first thing we saw getting off the escalator was a vitra display featuring my favorite chairs. everything else was just as cool. mica had a booth (situated among displays from cranbrook and pratt) that offered really forward thinking solutions for urban food shopping/farming and packaging.

bottom: photos from mica's commencement exhibition. the entire campus pretty much turns into a gallery and each graduating senior gets space set aside to show their theisis. usually undergrads are long gone before stuff gets installed, so it was important for me to make it back to baltimore and get a feel for what i'm in for. (in just two years... scary.) the work there ran the gammut, as expected. (i actually think the rubber banded brick on fourth floor brown was my favorite.) but overall, i felt like the people that actually understood "thesis" were few and far between i guess it was worth seeing just to know that my graduating class should seriously step up its game.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

open city, continued

my first scheme for concrete culture was to make open and closed signs out of concrete. the construction would be as easy as the tiles we made in class, and i'd get to indulge myself and cut letters out of foamular. perfect. except for the fact that, as my teacher so gently brought to my attention, i didn't really have a reason to make them out of concrete. darn. so when the concrete clause was lifted for our final project, i revisited this simple idea. grounded in my admiration for these quotidian pieces of design (a la open), the gd in me vectorized some classic sign compositions and cut them out of vinyl, the sculpture in me grabbed some aluminum, and the urbanist in me started looking at commerical places in the city that cater to one race, while defacto excluding the other. i wanted to use the signs to comment on these unspoken boundaries. after my critique, i realize that there is a lot more to pay attention to both technically and conceptually. just throwing that out there right now, i'm sure i'll revisit it in some way or another later...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

architecture, art, and the open city

putting together an exhibition in this class was always kind of an after thought to everything else, but everyone kicked it into high gear for the last month or so to pull this together. (finding out that it would also be exhibited at the architecture biennale in rotterdam helped move things along...) to sum it up, we took the arsenal of exclusion tools that we had written research papers on, and put them into brochure format. the cool part is, and thanks to dan for making this connection, we went out and actually put each brochure in corresponding locations throughout baltimore. (using the nifty "take one" boxes shown in the picture above.) each brochure then folds open to show the map above, with names and locations of all the other 29 tools. they'll be scattered around town for the next week if you're up for a scavenger hunt!

if not, an compilation of all of the brochures is on display right now in the decker library, and a reception (with pizza!) is today at 5 pm in the lobby area of bunting. you can also go to to read about each tool and see a google map of where they're all at.

here's more about the class (according to dan):

"Architecture, Art, and the Open City" is an ongoing research seminar.
Its aim is threefold:

The first aim is to think about what an "Open City" might look like. An ideal urban condition that has long inspired architects, urban planners, and artists, the "Open City" can be defined loosely as "an arena in which diverse social and ethnic groups can coexist, interact, and generate complex relationships and networks." Typically contrasted with the reality of the built environment in America, where homogeneous walled subburbs, fortified Central Business Districts, and nostalgic downtown tourist bubbles are said to rule the day, the Open City is a positive vision of the city as a vibrant space of encounter and exchange.

The second aim is to better understand the institutions, social policies, and physical objects that are in one way or another complicit in the spacial segregaton of Baltimore's residents along race, class, or age lines, and that therefore work against the Open City ideal.

The third aim is to identify opportunities for artists, architects, and activists to"Open" the city by either working against the institutions, social polities, and physical objects mentioned above, presenting new visions of the Open City, or directly intervening in public space.

type two

i had no idea how similar my stuff for type has been this semester until i laid it out for a final crit today. call is cohesion or a comfort zone i needed to get out of my system, but it's interesting. for a class that has gotten nothing but complaints, i'm actually pretty satisfied with the stuff i made.

top left: a file folder system for "typographic karate." each folder contains final copies and an envelope of exercises for different constraints.

top right: a perfect bound newsprint book of recommended readings for graphic designers using fibonacci's sequence to make a grid.

bottom: a book of 32 different spreads with the same instructions on "how to make a paper airplane" using only garamond and futura.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

15 things bernard canniffe taught me

i should have posted this monday after my gd final. maybe i'm in denial of the whole thing. a few weeks ago someone let it slip that bern was leaving mica to become the graphic design chair at mcad. and the sky started falling. i won't even go into the specifics of what that means, except that we will really really miss him and those minnesotans better know how lucky they are to have him. because i'm jealous already. and so, in honor of two semesters of his crazy brilliant verbal diahrria, here is a list of a few (monumental) things i've learned. thanks, bern.

1. perception is everything.
2. the first thing that comes to mind is too easy.
3. graphic design is storytelling. if you don't have a story you're not doing shit.
4. research. for every project you have to be an expert in that thing.
5. if you cant simplify your idea to one word you don't have an idea, you have nonsense.
6. information is power.
7. the sexy ones sell themselves. the challenge is to try selling, say, hemorrhoid ointment.
8. 11x17 is not a poster.
9. you have to go through this stuff first before you get to the guinness.
10. be selfish. make them want to spend more time with yours than anyone elses.
11. visual cliches are not graphic design.
12. you have to be on your game in class. you're the one paying for it.
13. if an instructor tells you what to do, run away.
14. there is something about your life and your experience that only you can draw from. so use it.
15. every solution should be completely different.

note: special thanks to mel bar for somehow capturing the moment above in class and putting it on facebook.

come to jesus moment

my final project for gd 2. bern's been prepping us for this one since the start of the semester, developing our own toy and packaging it. i took some liberties with defining "toy" (ok, i completely chucked "toy" out the window...) but he wanted us to make something that would be our "come to jesus moment," and i thought this would be cool.

glass half empty, glass half full.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

taking it to the streets

it was getting down to crunch time with this bad boy. classrooms and buildings are beginning to get cleared out for the senior show, and any work stored in the station building pretty much has to be removed this weekend. in my head, i had this vision of recruiting the roomies and wheeling the 300 pound monstrosity back to my dorm. needless to say, we didn't get very far. today, with the help of some generous classmates, we drove around the city looking for a home for it. (or as kwok-pan put it, a place to abandon my baby.)

the class is called "concrete culture: city as text" so it was important to me from the start that what i made would live out in baltimore somewhere. documentation wise, i never intended pictures to only be taken in the classroom. working with the city wide open as a canvas, i had honed in on the slivers of vacant lots among rows and rows of homes in baltimore. there was just something so intriguing about the stark change from presence to absence (even though the homes around are often abandoned and un-occupied as well.) the stretch of houses that we found (20th between gilford and barclay) was entirely boarded up/sealed with cinder block on the left side of the street. it's pretty unbelievable.

expect a slew of projects and posts in the next week in an attempt to wrap this semester up...

Friday, May 1, 2009

i want this chair

crazy cool. and only $550. but i guess for something 5 years in the making, you can charge whatever you want.