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Month: June 2018

REDEFINE YOUR BOXES

REDEFINE YOUR BOXES

I confess:  I am in love with artist Dustin Yellin’s mind.

He strongly believes that “if you have amazing people around you, then amazing things will happen” and he’s been proving that truth over and over again.

In 2015, artist Dustin Yellin did this captivating video, “A Journey Through the Mind of an Artist,” as a TEDTalk in Vancouver.  It has been widely viewed.

Yellin uses a process involving layered glass to explore what one commentator describes as “themes of nature at odds with human technological progress.”

He throws together metaphors, allegories, dreamscapes, and visions and mixes them up into glorious, chaotic and dizzy-making narratives that keep unfolding the longer you stand there and try to take it all in.

The monumental apocalyptic “Triptych” which he features in the video was inspired by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” triptych that is part of the permanent collection at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Yellin’s sculpture weighs 12 tons.  Hieronymus Bosch’s painting is not quite so hefty.

The other works he features are part of a series of sculptures he calls “Psychogeographies,” which are commentaries on the human condition in these unsettling times.

The essentially biographical YouTube video is an interesting look inside one artist’s head.  At the time, Yellin was promoting what he calls his “brick box.”

That box is “Pioneer Works”, a creativity incubator that grew out of Yellin’s conviction that the best art and the very best thinking happens when you throw together talented artists and intellectuals and let them build connections with each other and play together to spark up all kinds of marvels that they then share with the rest of the world.

pioneer-works
“Pioneer Works” by Nick Normal via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Writer Annie Fabricant, in a Huffington Press article written about Pioneer Works before it first opened, was the Yellin-watcher who captured Yellin’s quote about amazing people and things in the opening lines of this thing.  It gives you an idea of the intentions behind making his dream-utopia come real.

In the intervening years since that article, Yellin has been spot-on.  Innovation and alternative thinking happen at Pioneer Works.

THE BACK STORY

Five years before the talk, when he was an up-and-coming artist hitting his stride as the darling of the Beautiful People and the blue-chip movers, shakers and cultural illuminati in the Age of Information and Social Connection, Yellin had New York City all abuzz.

He had just closed a real estate deal for an enormous three-story, 25,000-square-foot abandoned wreck of a Civil War-era ironworks factory on Pioneer Street as well as its adjoining garbage-strewn lot in the infamous Red Hook, a neighborhood along Brooklyn’s waterfront that was once dubbed the “crack capital of America” by LIFE Magazine in the late 1980’s.

The place has history.  Pioneer Iron Works, which originally inhabited the building in 1866, created machinery for sugar production (which they shipped to Cuba in the late 1800’s and then to Puerto Rico in the early 1900’s) as well as railroad tracks and large-scale machines required by industry.

The building burned to the ground in a devastating fire in 1881 and was quickly rebuilt.  The factory remained in operation until the end of World War II.

It was this building that was a landmark that gave Pioneer Street its name.

The one-time maritime neighborhood of Red Hook is on a peninsula that projects into the Upper New York Bay.  It is less than one square mile, bounded by the Gowanus Expressway, the Gowanus Canal, Upper New York Bay and Buttermilk Channel.

More than half of the neighborhood’s residents live in subsidized rentals at New York City Housing Authority’s Red Hook Houses, the largest public housing development in Brooklyn.  The development is located a few blocks away from Yellin’s “brick box.”

It was reported that Yellin paid $3.7 million for the place.  It had no windows, no floors, no stairs, no utilities, and few amenities.  It did have a forty-foot high ceiling that soared and it had space…lots and lots of space.

Back then he said he was going to take that massive old red-brick behemoth and transform it into an art utopia “dedicated to the creation, synthesis and discussion of art, science and education.”

And he did.  Twice.

The first time, the box officially opened was in June, 2012.  The renovations were impressive.  For example, more than 100 windows were added to the once-windowless structure, turning it into a light and airy fairyland sort of place.

Then, on October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City.  The mega-storm’s 29-foot waves and storm surges caused extensive coastal flooding and record-high damages.

 

Sandy was the fourth-costliest Atlantic hurricane in U.S. history.  At its peak it was a Category 3 hurricane.

Low-lying Red Hook was one of the ten communities that were hardest hit.  More than five feet of water inundated most of the local businesses and residences.

At the Works, 3,200 square feet of drywall was ruined.  All of the ground-floor windows had to be redone.  The wood shop, metal shop and most of the equipment and machinery had to be replaced. The bathrooms had to be rebuilt.  There was no electricity for two months.

In the newly installed gardens surrounding the complex, trees had toppled and many of the beds were destroyed.  Entire sections of the half-acre garden area had to be replanted and redesigned.

Yellin and his team had to clean up and re-start the reconstruction from the bottom up again.

PIONEER WORKS TODAY

In the years since then the non-profit Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation has lived up to its name magnificently.  It attracts just-regular folks from the surrounding neighborhoods and denizens of the close-knit New York art scene as well as admirers from all over the world.

More than 150,000 people visit the Pioneer Works Center every year, attracted by the quirky free and affordable programs the group offers.  Nearly 500,000 visitors visit the group’s website every year.

in-the-garden
“In the Garden” (Pioneer Works) by sebastián bravo via Flicker [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

contemporary-african-art-fair-2017
“Contemporary African Art Fair 2017” by J-No via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The best thing about all this is that it is not all about Yellin.  There is no one voice, no one vision.  Instead it has grown into a chorus of voices, a multiplicity of visions.

MAKER-SPACE GONE QUANTUM

It’s like a “Maker Space” taken to the nth degree, actually.  The thing fosters collaboration, creating partnerships between curators, artists, inventors, scientists, philosophers and all the other kinds of Makers.

micah-ganske-in-the-studio
“Micah Ganske in the studio” by Nick Normal via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
There are ongoing artist and scientist residency programs that throw together leading-edge scientists and scholars, Ph.D. researchers, programmers, physicists, biologists, chemists with visual and performing artists, along with writers, musicians, and designers.  The programs give them the tools they need to do their work (or take it to another level) in an environment that supports cross-talk between creatives and scientists and encourages them to collaborate on projects together.

oren-ambarchi
“Oren Ambarchi” by Ian Crowther via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
The partnerships and collaborations growing out of the cross-pollination of all of these varied disciplines have become a strong jumping-off point that has resulted in multi-layered, complex projects for the community to experience and share.

workspace
“Workspace” by sebastián bravo via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The space is huge.  There’s room for special art installations, lectures by art and science leaders, film presentations, musical and dance performances, and parties and barbecues too.

inhabitat
“Inhabitat” by Chico MacMurtrie-Chrysalis via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Educational courses offered by the center run the gamut through the assorted fields of arts and sciences represented by the people wandering around.  They have also included things like circuitry design, lock-picking, making kombucha, and even advice about how to fake being dead.

The center also has a bi-annual publication called “Intercourse.”

To learn more about the center, visit their website by clicking on the button below:

click-here

AND NOW, FOR  DESSERT….

There’s a transcript of a fascinating conversation between Dustin Yellin and Brandon Stosuy, the editor-in-chief of The Creative Independent, a Kickstarter, PBC online digest and repository of interviews with many creative people on a large variety of topics as well as a collection of resources and guidance for working creatives that you can access:

click-here

In it Yellin has a grand time explaining the whys and the hows that help Pioneer Works work.

Here’s a poem….


IN GRATITUDE

I am grateful for

Butterflies who madly

Fly across busy highways

Through a stream of vehicular currents

Against prevailing winds.

And make it.

 

I am grateful for

Green growing things that madly

Spring up heedlessly

Braving dry spells, tapped-out soil,

Bugs and careless feet

And make it.

 

I am grateful for

The wild-eyed dreamers who madly

Strive to make their way

Towards goals only they can see,

Breasting ridicule and scorn

And make it.

 

I am grateful for that madness.

I am grateful that they make it.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Second Sundays Open Studios” by Nick Normal via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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YOUR WALK TALKS — Another IPS

YOUR WALK TALKS — Another IPS

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing awareness that the only thing that abides is the way you walk.  [How are you walking and how is your walk talking?]

Assorted studies have shown that the way you walk down the street increases your chances of being a victim, a target for challenge, or a welcome addition to a group.

If that’s so, it seems to me, then all of the possible different ways you could walk are likely to evoke responses from the people around you and might even determine how you’ll be treated by them.

STUDYING THE MOVES

This video, “100 Different Ways to Walk,” is actually an “animation reference” put together by stop-motion animator and self-styled video wizard Kevin Parry in 2017 as a way to remind himself of the wide variety of ways a humanoid might walk.

It’s a thing Parry uses to develop the action in his stop-motion animation films.  It can also be a way for you to pay attention to the emotions and reactions different ways of walking might evoke in you.

Check it out and think on how you might react and what you might feel about a person if you happened to see someone walking past you using one of these different ways of moving through the world.

What would you think about this person?  What is your likely reaction to him or her?  Your responses to each of these ways of movement might be surprisingly different.

If you like Parry’s work, you may want to check out his official website.  click-here

My thought is that if the way you move your body can evoke emotions and reactions from other people who are watching what you do, then it’s likely that the way you are moving yourself through your world  – your actions and the ways you deal with others around you, the choices you make and the paths you take – can also cause other people to react to you in very different ways.

YOUR TALK STAYS TALK IF YOU DON’T DO THE WALK

The thing is, as American author, speaker and pastor John C. Maxwell succinctly put it, “Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

“I have to start doing that!”  Oh, yeah.

“I NEED to do that!”  Uh-huh.

You hear that all the time, right?

talking-over-supper
“Talking Over Supper” by John Flannery via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Every time there’s some new study and whenever some new idea or concept starts making the rounds, the noise level gets louder and there’s a flurry of “Me-too, me-too, I’m going to do it!”

What’s your initial reaction to all that?  Maybe you throw a little bit of a cynical grin?  Maybe a little snort or snigger?

I bet you don’t really take all the foo-fah-rah seriously.  You’ve heard it all before, after all.  People tell you what they’re going to do or what they need to do and how they are going to really, really do it…but, then, they never get around to it somehow.

Or maybe they tried something and it didn’t go as they expected.  It was really hard and the results were not what they wanted.  It was disappointing and not at all the thing.

So these folks are going to try this next great thing, and this time….hoo-hoo!  They will do it.  Right.

After a while, the blathering tires out your ears.

In our younger days we might have been surprised and even disappointed by the lack of follow-through.  Eventually it’s very likely that we pretty much stop paying attention to the pronouncements and declarations filling up the airwaves.

Instead, we start paying attention to the way the people doing all that talking are walking.  We give a heck of a lot more credence to the other person’s consistent action over a long period of time.

WASH, RINSE, REPEAT

Fact.  If you change back to your old behaviors every time you hit a speed-bump, nobody is going to believe you want a different world.

Talk is inexpensive.  All of us say things all the time about who we are, what we can do, what we’re going to do and on and on.

Walking is not so easy to fake.

walking
Walking” by oatsy40 via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
If you stay the course (as hard as that is to do) you will gain credibility.  The longer you keep walking towards that goal you say you’re heading towards and the fact that you keep on doing it no matter what is very convincing.

When your words and your actions match each other and they demonstrate who you are, then people will start to believe that what you say really is what you do.

Positive thinker Ralph Marston, who puts together the popular positivity blog, The Daily Motivator, says it well: “What you say can make a big difference, but only if it is fully supported by what you do. Walk your talk, and both your walking and your talking will get great things done.”

This YouTube video, “Why Our Actions Speak Louder than Words” was published in 2016 by biologist-turned-filmmaker Rob Nelson.   It adds another take on the matter.

Rob and his collaborator Jonas Stenstrom, another biologist-cum-filmmaker, put together a channel on YouTube, “52 Things” which is specifically geared towards “making better science storytellers with photo and video.”  They are producing a series of videos to help other science bloggers become better filmmakers.

Check out their Patreon page.  If you’d like to become a patron and support them in this endeavor, click here:

click-here

Here’s a poem:


NOTHING COMING

Hey, Braddah….

I’m sorry to see that I was right.

(I had so hoped I was wrong.)

You’re showin’ you cannot handle

Dealing straight with the trust

You were given.

 

The excuses and rationalizations

Are flying so thick,

I cannot even talk.

I have no advice for you…

No it’s-gonna-be-all-right,

No absolution.

This one’s yours

And you’ll have to fix it –

A D.I.Y. project.

 

You’re feeling guilty.

I can see that,

Uh-huh….

The shaky structure you have built

On this shifting sand of maybes and couldas and shouldas

Is getting washed away,

Undermined by the waves of murky thoughts

Generated by too many issues

That have nothing to do with me.

 

I’m sorry, man.

You’re the one who keeps on digging the hole.

And, for real, I’ve run out of hands to help.

 

Guess you’re gonna have to deal, Braddah-man….

Created by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Haleakala Sunrise by lwtt93 via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

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