29 October 2011

[events] Wasteland's Lucy Walker @ MIT

Upcoming ACT event with filmmaker Lucy Walker, who directed the documentary Wasteland.  This documentary has been on my "to watch" list since even before its Oscar nomination.  Hooray for trash people getting press!


Monday, October 31 at 7:00 PM
Filmmaker Lucy Walker

99 Is Not 100 – Documenting the Transformative Power of Art, or the Art of Transformative Documentary
Keynote: Lucy Walker, Filmmaker (UK)
Respondent: Claude Grunitzky, Chairman, True; Sloan Fellow, MIT (USA)

How do we observe or quantify the impact of an artistic intervention or the impact of a documentary film? Lucy Walker will be reflecting on the experience of making and showing the film Waste Land, a documentary about artist Vik Muniz’s collaboration with the self-designated recyclables materials pickers of Jardim Gramacho, the largest landfill in the world. The film has won over thirty international awards and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Lucy Walker has directed four award-winning feature documentaries: Devil’s Playground, Blindsight, Waste Land and Countdown To Zero.

Lucy Walker’s latest film, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, is among the eight shortlisted contenders for the 84th Academy Awards’ best Documentary Short Subject category, of which three to five films will earn Oscar nominations.

MIT Bartos Theater, Wiesner Building (E15)
20 Ames Street, Cambridge
(See directions below.) Free and open to the public.

Studio sunrise

Yuliya and I were privileged to witness a most amazing sunrise the morning of our thesis midreview.  And although the review itself ended up not going so great, I'm still glad I saw this as a reminder that there is beauty in the beginning of a new day.

photo courtesy of Yuliya's phone

21 October 2011

[ayiti] The smallest construction site

 Last night, the smallest construction site was in operation from 11:15-11:35pm. Some of my thesis studiomates had a good laugh at this process.  It just seemed so ... real yet fake.  I was working with "real" materials, yet in such miniscule quantities that it was more akin to doling out medication doses than cubic meters of construction matter.

Welcome to my studio-turn-production center.  Maybe it seems silly, but I wanted to do a (literally) little test of a recycled concrete mix design, what material is best used for formwork, and what release agent is ideal for the process.  Scaling a building panel down to 1/10th its size meant that each piece was roughly the size of a credit card.  How much will I learn from it?  Well, it's something.  The concrete is still curing.  In the meantime, I made this stilted animation courtesy of Phil's smart phone and a little bit of Photoshop* :

* while I figure out how to upload animated GIF files to this blog - 
a subject that many a blogger has struggled over but have not come up with a simple solution - 
click on the photo for now to see the animation.

It involved mixing concrete using the following essential ingredients:
  • cement = Quikrete (because I don't have time for the real 7 day cure)
  • large aggregate = gravel from Killian Court as "scaled rubble"
  • fine aggregate = playground sand
  • water = taken from the women's bathroom
  • work area tarp = trash bag
  • work gloves = latex-free gloves from the fab lab
  • release agent = WD-40 (a real release agent, but perhaps too powerful for corrugated cardboard)
My mix design was essentially 1 part cement, 4-parts gravel (inaccurate due to using plastic cups for measurement), 6 parts sand.  I might need to use more sand and less gravel next time, or let these things cure longer since the first one broke after I separated it from the bottom formwork to reveal a mini piece of concrete reminiscent of a gray Blondie with chocolate chips.

In any rate, more experimentation to come as our thesis midreview looms!

    18 October 2011

    Who builds the house?

    1Unless the LORD builds the house,
       those who build it labor in vain.
    Unless the LORD watches over the city,
       the watchman stays awake in vain.
    2It is in vain that you rise up early
       and go late to rest,
    eating the bread of anxious toil;
       for he gives to his beloved sleep.

    Psalm 127:1-2
    A good reminder of the right perspective on control and the right attitude based on trust, especially in the midst of thesis and other work that threaten to overwhelm me.  Pressing on!

    I also realized that I haven't been very good about posting updates directly about my thesis research ... or really, anything else that I've been working on recently.  Hopefully I'll find some moments to put a few things up and reflect - or just pretty pictures as they come.

    09 October 2011

    1 litre, lanterns of light

    In any conversation about working in developing countries, the term "capacity building" comes up time and time again - but what does it really mean, or begin to even look like?  And what is the role of our education at MIT in relation to locally-grown knowledge?

    In our eLuma project meetings, there has recently been quite a bit of discussion about training and knowledge transfer.  As a possible exercise or real life example of 'capacity building,' one of our teammates brought up the example of the "bleach and water light bulb" - which I didn't quite understand until watching this video:

    For more information about the MIT-seeded, community-grown initiative, check out the organization, called Isang Litrong Liwanag.

    01 October 2011

    [ayiti] La creativite naturele

    Another take on life in Haiti, through the eyes of local artisans.  I had previously heard about the art of converting old oil drums into steelwork, but seeing the process, people, and other examples of craft was a refreshing inside look.


    via Architechnophilia
    Thanks to Juliet for the link!