Saturday, August 18, 2012

SF Street Food Festival Seating

The San Francisco Street Food Festival was today- an event created by La Cochina, a food incubator program. The event was set up really well, and I thought the 'cheap and cheerful' seating and tables were a great fit. Here is the system they developed:

Pallet seating in 3 configurations with milk crate tables, connected via zip ties.
I especially liked the stress testing I saw throughout the event:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just A Vessel?

Full-scale model for "Activity Platform"
One of the concept models to attach to the full-scale dolly system was completed by Monica Martinez. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are two platform types in the hopper: one is for "activities" and one is for exhibiting objects. This is the activity system I'm first sussing out.

As I work in the office with the model and think about next steps, I've been grappling with ideas around how much this wants to have a design identity to it, and how much it wants to be some crazy platform that offers extreme flexibility.

Sid Laverents, One Man Band (photo: UCLA Film & Television Archive)
In terms of presenting something outdoors (which is where the SFMM mostly goes), there are lots of ways to slice it. At the end of the day however, this is a project that's about creating something where there was none.

While I like the dolly and the direction with the cardboard model (I feel really lucky to be working on this with Monica), I'm yearning for more. The museum doesn't need to be a blank canvas for others to project onto- otherwise, get a canvas. It does need to be something, and something in addition to the content of an exhibition. 

I come back to this quote from an earlier post about the University College London's Mobile Museum project:
“In the process of working towards our new model for museum… what we would like is a small portable space that can house two or three people and one museum object, that is not a tent, that is in some way magic, appealing, thought-provoking, enticing…” - Celine West
Having the time to step back and look at the model is really useful. 

Eventually, we'll have a show.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dolly In Hand: prototyping the body next week

Dog, from uncertainty to ownership
The dolly arrived today and we're going to start building simple cardboard mockups to determine the physical scale for the new Mobile Museum platform. My feeling is that while scaled drawings are great, for something that has multiple hands-on, it's nice to go ahead and try it out in real scale when possible.

We'll be looking at what's a good working height, then what size the elements can be in relation to the Museum, as well as what types of signage and attention we may or may not want to get with it.

Sometimes subversivity is desirable. More next week.

- Maria

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hello Dolly: New Exhibit Platform

For our next exhibit, "Observatorium," I've been working on developing a platform that's much more mobile that our first iteration. The old system looked good and worked well, but was best with 2 people helping.

I'm going to now unveil the backbone of the our SFMM Exhibit Platform System:
As part of iterating both the exhibit concept and the exhibit platform "renewal," I've been working with artist Monica Martinez on the dolly system. Basically, there are 2 approaches:

Activities set up

This means the dolly has a framework of boxes that hold tools, work surfaces and a small bookshelf for the Observatorium:

Exhibit set up

This option is for when there are less activities and more objects to show or share:

We've got a small model and will be building and testing a full-scale model out of cardboard in a couple of weeks. Maybe we'll leave the whole thing cardboard, and just iterate it when we need a new set up.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Supporting Role

Just after we launch our "Observatorium" exhibit, we may be playing a supporting role in the artist (artiste?) JR's Inside Out Project through a collaboration with the International Museum of Women. They have asked to look at  popping up with large-format images of mothers. We're figuring it out now- I'm sure it will beyond a billboard.

The IMOW, an excellently done virtual museum, currently has a show that ties into the I/O project- "MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe:"

This is interesting because we haven't waded into the social issues sea- it's not our area of expertise, but it is a fun and fairly low-risk experiment. We'll post info as it approaches.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quick re-post: "Too Much For the Brain To Take In"

I was reading this article within the context of "observation". The Australian Arts & Lifestyle has a good article on a topic we have seen before: Too Much For The Brain To Take In

I'm going to take the liberty of excerpting what I think is the gist below, which lays out a logic for what we value in art: a transformative experience. That delightful mix of Resonance with an idea and Wonder at its realization or character. Experienced internally through observation and presence, and shared through proximity and subsequent conversation:
"A picture is not absorbed in a flash, apparently, but by a process of visual assembly. "The result of this rather mad experiment," says Alexander Sturgis, the curator of a show based on this research, was that "surprise, surprise, everyone looks differently". 
Our idiosyncrasies put curators to the test....  A single picture, hung in isolation with no writing around it and perfect lighting, might be what some people long for, but others will be completely put off." 
"You might assume that going to an art gallery is about looking at art works," says Leader, "but it's just as much about looking at other people. When the Chapman brothers showed their McDonald's effigies many were shocked because the amazing thing about that show was that the room was dark and people could only look at the work, not at each other." Many shuffled away quickly to discuss it afterwards in the safety of their fellow group...
"In a sense we are not interested in art. We are interested in what other people are interested in. 
"Built into how we see an art work is how someone else sees it," Leader says. As he explains in his Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops Us From Seeing, "visual images on their own might trap us, but for our capture to become more than transitory they need to take on a symbolic, signifying value". 
"A place has to be made for them. Crucially, art works need to mean something for someone else."
"Our relationship with art is far more than visual. It is social, emotional, philosophical and spiritual. You will push your way free of the thronged blockbuster when you have reached the end of your physical or mental strength. This could take three hours or three minutes. But there will probably be an image that you won't be able to push out of your mind. It will have outfaced you in the staring contest. It's not you who takes in the art, but the art that takes over you."
I wonder about that last idea that for "our capture to become more than transitory they need to take on a symbolic, signifying value" and consider if it's possible to integrate such a social and psychological phenomena into an exhibition. Or is that something that happens whether or not we try? Perhaps I'm making this too much for my brain to take in.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

When is it exhibit or art and does it matter?

Walk with me through this one. As I'm working on the next exhibit concept, thoughts like these cross my mind:

How much responsibility do I have to be educational in my exhibits? 

For example, I'm working on this concept of "Observation". How much am I responsible for educating people about what the universe defines as observation? There is of course the need to inform the public enough about any topic so they can get into the exhibit-- however, is there a line around what the quality of that knowledge is that I present?

At what point does it tip into art, and do I need to be declarative about it?

In 1999, I worked on a piece at the Yerba Buena with Neil Grimmer called "". It was a fictitious product showroom for a web and pager system that would deliver mantras to you based on Chakra points. Some visitors laughed, others approached us and suggested that we install it in hospitals and shopping malls.

We thought that it was important to the piece to leave it up to visitors to decide- as for the idea we were floating this idea of melding technology and spirituality.

The SF Mobile Museum is a construct I've created with the intent to play with the concept of museums, exhibits, and art. I believe that if it serves the experience to be agnostic about intent, so be it. I do wonder is there a case where that is not true?
Does it matter?

When we see "museum" is there some universal process that we all assume has been applied? I can think of similar assumptions from the well-known Fox "News" to calling just about anything an "artifact". Many art careers have been built upon "artifacts".

In the context of the SFMM, I've been working on the assumption that it doesn't matter, because the whole idea is to explore and expand the basic concept of "museum"-- so that means playing with it in a variety of ways.

Again, I go back to the quality of the experience. If it serves the concept and fosters the quality of experience I'm trying to achieve, then it doesn't matter how I get there, as long as it follows a logic that serves the idea/experience.


I'm not asking for permission, and I am probably overthinking (my part-time hobby). I do wonder if others think about this, and questions or conclusions they arrive at. What responsibility do you feel you have, if any?