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ITP Classes (old posts, page 8)

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect

Gordon Matta-Clark was an artist who was famous for cutting holes into existing buildings to create art. Defining his artistic practice “Anarchitecture,” Matta-Clark directly addressed the social conditions of his day and presented them in a way that made people pay attention to something they would otherwise ignore.

Matta-Clark studied architecture at Cornell from 1962 to 1968 but did not practice architecture in a conventional manner. After college when he returned to his native New York (1969), he was disturbed by the conditions of his day and wanted to address the social problems. At the time there were a lot of decrepit and vacant apartments. There was a large homeless population and garbage littered the streets. In Matta-Clark’s words, “I have chosen not isolation from the social conditions, but to deal directly with social conditions whether by physical implication, as in most of my building works, or through more direct community involvement. [2]”

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Songs for Sabotage

The Songs for Sabotage exhibition at the New Museum presents the work of a collection of young artists from around the world. This exhibition attempts “a call for action, an active engagement, and an interference in political and social structures [1],” but only some of the work presented seemed to relate to that goal. Nevertheless, there are many talented artists included presenting a diverse collection of work.

Diamond Stingily’s E.L.G. (2018) addresses our social problems with a large metal swing set with a single swing. On the support beam directly above the swing is a single brick, positioned in such a way to threaten someone below if someone were to use the swing. Given that children most commonly use swing sets, it seems to reference the danger children face in the world today. The work also includes a metal ladder on the side of the swing set, leading to nowhere. I understood this to represent the lack of a clear future children face as they climb the metaphorical “ladder of success.” Stingily’s social and economic background from growing up in Chicago influences her work [2].

/images/itp/history_of_contemporary_art/diamond_stingily.jpg

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Data Progress

This week I was busy writing Python code to download and store data and JPG files retrieved from Google's Streetview API. I am happy with my progress. I can reliably download data and images from Google without any problems. My code begins with the latitude and longitude of a start location and will download all of the available Streetview data within a specified radius linked to the start location. It will crawl the dataset from one location to another, testing if a new location is within the given radius, querying neighboring locations, and downloading the panorama images.

Next I need to make sure I am storing the data in an accessible way. I expect to download many images over time and want to organize it in such a way that I don't have to download anything a second time. I am using a SQLite database to store metadata on the downloaded data. This will keep everything organized and retrievable. Once I have this done I will let it start downloading data for multiple locations as I begin stockpiling data.

I am on track to meet next week's milestone of having something ready to feed into a Neural Network for a style transfer.

Tania Bruguera: Untitled (Havanana, 2000)

Tania Bruguera is a Cuban-born performance artist and activist. Her work challenges the people who experience it to consider and understand the oppression of the Cuban people under the Cuban revolution and the resulting Castro regime.

Bruguera’s work, purposefully titled Untitled (Havanana, 2000), is set in a long dark tunnel with sugarcane lining the floors. This first took place in a military bunker previously used for prisoners and executions during the Cuban revolution but was quickly shut down by government authorities. The setting was recreated at MoMA using actual concrete walls and sugarcane lined floors. A television on the ceiling shows decaying video of Castro hugging his people and playing the role of a benevolent, powerful, and gracious leader. This contrasts with the lives of Cubans after the revolution.

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Cristina Iglesias: Entwined

Cristina Iglesias is a Spanish artist and sculptor who builds pieces that conflate interior and exterior spaces and materials. Her work is reminiscent of nature and encourages the viewer to experience the serenity and calmness of the natural world, reminding us of its constant presence.

Iglesias initially studied Chemical Sciences in 1976 only to switch paths to ceramics and drawing in 1978 [1]. Her father was a scientist and she was always fascinated by science, but in school she was also becoming interested in art. In her words, “I liked it but at the same time I was developing also reading and drawing and being interested in art and and then I realized that I wanted to dedicate myself to it.[2]” She then moved to London in 1980 to study Sculpture and begin her art career [1].

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Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away

Danh Vo (pronounced yon voh) is a Vietnamese born conceptual artist (1975). His work explores cultural and personal themes relating to national imperialism and his family’s forced migration. His artwork seems meaningless at first, but after further reflection one can see the meaning attached to that which Vo is presenting.

Vo’s family fled Vietnam in 1979 in a homemade boat. While at sea they were picked up by a Danish boat leading to their eventual relocation to Denmark [1]. Although he doesn’t remember this time of his life the events surrounding his family of origin’s migration deeply shape Vo’s artistic work.

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Paper Car

Tomorrow we are going to visit a school to share our work. Our goal was to make a paper toy kit to share with the students. We need to bring one fully assembled and one ready to be assembled by the children.

After much thought, I made this paper car:

/images/itp/paper_engineering/week3/car1.jpg

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Data Investigation

Milestone #1: Data Investigation

My first step is to investigate my data options for this project. As discussed in my plan, I am considering Google Streetview data and LiDAR data. The Streetview data is my first choice but I realized that that data might be different from what I expect or have weird complications that make it difficult or impossible to do what I have in mind. I wanted to consider alternatives, and there's a lot that interests me about LiDAR data. Of course that data might be impossible to work with too. In any case, I needed to find out these things right away while it is still easy to change course on this project.

The summary of Google Streetview data is that it is easy to work with and close to what I expected. They provide a convenient API that is properly documented. Unfortunately, the depth data discussed in this blog post does not come from the API, and that information is compressed in a format I have not yet parsed. The author of that post does provide C++ code for doing so; I am optimistic that I will be able to translate that to Python and/or integrate their process into my code.

LiDAR data is also well documented but extremely complex. I've worked with complex data before and am confident I can manage this if I put in the time. My objection is that taking the project in that direction would take a good portion of the class. I would have less time to learn about the topics I want to be learning about.

Additionally, I feel the challenges I would face with the Google Streetview data is resonating with me in a way that the LiDAR data challenges are not.

My conclusion is that I will use the Google Streetview data for this project. Sometime after the semester is over I might spend more time with the LiDAR data and get some experience working with it. It would be a great choice for a future project.

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