Friday, 22 November 2013

2013: How One Student Sees Me

It is not often that one gets to truly see one's self through someone else's eyes.
In this case, I like the person she evokes. 

Other than that, I'll just let this speak for itself.

Georgia Hampton
John Gutosky
Documentary Photography Assignment

I’ve taken a course about photojournalism in the past, and for that reason I probably shouldn’t be as anxious about approaching strangers in order to photograph them as I am. So, for this very quick assignment, I was frustrated with myself for being so uncertain when I initially went out to find someone to photograph. I kept coming up with excuses not to ask someone walking by.

Then, however, I saw this man giving a lecture to a group of students in the 3D lab at the Duderstadt; he was wearing flip-up glasses (the kind that older people wear) but instead of normal glasses they were 3D glasses. Immediately I forced myself to get over my inhibitions because you just don’t see glasses that outrageous every day.

Thomas Bray, the man with the silly glasses, is what his business card describes as a “converging technologies consultant.” In basic terms, that means that if you want to convey a certain emotion in your video exhibition, need help navigating the 3D printer, or have an idea and have no idea what kind of technology to use to make it happen, Tom is the person you want to talk to.

When I first began talking to him I thanked him for putting up with me and my camera, to which he quickly responded that he didn’t feel this was something to “put up with” at all. He said that in his mind art is something incredibly important, and that he was glad that he could be a part of it. By the end of the conversation he asked me to send him the photos I took of him and any interview I had, which I’m glad to do (Hello Tom!). I talked to him for maybe ten minutes, and in those ten minutes his enthusiasm for art and for innovation was so palpable that I left the conversation feeling excited for no discernable reason.

While I was trying to find a way to get him to talk about how he is “different,” he actually brought that up himself. We were talking about the faculty and staff at the university and how most of them know a great deal about one specific subject. He added that many people at this university probably know infinitely more than he does about any given thing. What makes Tom unique, however, is his wide range of knowledge, whether it is in theater or engineering or numerous other fields. I find this quality to be extremely important in a university, especially a university like this one that encourages the melding of very different programs.

I hope there are more people like Tom Bray around Michigan who inspire people to create and explore.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Case For The Cube: MCubed Report, Nov 15, 2013

I was part of the production team for the MCubed event on Friday November 15th.

"The Case For the Cube", as it was called, was akin to a mid-term book report on all the projects that had been "cubed" with this funding.

Overall it went very well, and all of us on the MCubed team were well pleased at the end of the day.

For the final presentation ("Jeweled Net...") of the afternoon sessions in the League, I brought in 2 extra projectors to expand the map generated of the dark matter in the universe.  It looked very cool on the ceiling in Mendelssohn theater.  You can see the onstage screen at the bottom of this video:

I enlisted some of the TedxUofM kids to help crew the presenter stations and provided some of the hardware used to streamline the presentations, laptops & timers, but mostly my role was to make sure that AV Squared, the production company providing the bulk of the AV gear, brought the right tools and was guided in how to work the event.  I also worked at varying levels with two of the presenting groups: "Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible" (singled out by Provost Martha Pollack as her very favorite title!) and "Opening the Music Archive: Community, Memory and Ethical Access".

"Jeweled Net" is a project to sonify and visualize the Dark Matter in the Universe, hence the "Vast Invisible" part.  The team was Greg Tarle, an astrophysicist, Jim Cogswell, visual artist and Stephen Rush, musician.

"Opening the Music Archive" was Kelly Askew of the African Studies Center, Paul Conway of the School of Information, and David Wallace of SI.  It's about getting audio assets out and available to people on line.

The MCubed team was planning to have the whole event in Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League, but when they suddenly had 1100 people register they decided to move the morning sessions to Rackham Auditorium - Mendelssohn only seats 640.

As it turned out they could have stayed in the League for the entire event because there were so many no-shows.  The event organizers were stunned at the over 50% of those registered that did not show up for Tony Fadell's keynote address.  Tony Fadell led the iPod development team, most of the iPhone development, and then went on to design the Nest series of home technology devices (currently a thermostat and smoke detector).

Here is a schematic drawing of the gear I provided for the presenters setup at both sites.
The top shows the location and content displayed for the three monitors at the front edge of the stage. This is 2 identical "confidence" monitors that mirror what is being projected, and one smaller monitor that displays the timer application being run on the iPad.  Both the iPad and the 21 presenter laptops are on a table offstage, along with all the VGA switching and distribution gear.  There is one cable bundle that ran across the front of the stage in this setup.

Why do we use VGA?  Mostly because we have the gear to do it, but also because VGA still avoids issues like maximum distances in digital distribution.

Photos, first from Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League (check out the video clip later):

View of the stage from "Presentation Control".  Note the monitors on the downstage lip of the stage.

View of the Command Center offstage right.

And from Rackham:

The TedX crew on site, along with Pat Murphy from Michigan Productions.
More TedX'ers, here to help escort presenters around the space and watch their stuff.
Tricia from AV2 at the wireless mic station at the back of the house in Rackham.
All the presenters were wired/unwired back here, away from the audience.
Me with CoE Dean Dave Munson (left) and Tony Fadell at Rackham.

It was gratifying to work with some old friends on their presentations, and apparently they also enjoyed it.  Quoting Jim Cogswell:

It is always a pleasure to work with you.  You know what you're doing, I can trust you to operate at the highest standards of craft and creativity, and I learn so much each time.  Thanks for shaping that presentation.  Looking forward to my next chance to do something again.  

Jim Cogswell
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Professor of Art & Design
Penny W Stamps School of Art & Design
University of Michigan

I'll post links to other shots as they come available.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

UM Victors for Michigan Campaign Kickoff - North Campus

Once again, I was part of the laser team that brought fun expressions of columnated light to campus - and some of the photos below actually made the front cover of the University Record, both online and print!

This time it was on the North Campus Diag & Lurie Tower as part of the College of Engineering's localized campaign kickoff event.  I worked with Holly Taylor & others at the CoE to help get things organized for the local Illuminatus team that did the Lumia lasers on Lurie Tower and the Daystar team from New York/California that brought in the big guns.

I also ended up handling the video projection part of the program, which was really no surprise; the laser guys were pretty busy, having lost a set up day/night due to bad weather and scheduling delays.

I had help in the form of someone holding an umbrella over me and the projector and the laptop screening the kickoff video.

Here are a few photos of the event and links to more.  Stay tuned, as I will post a few more on this site when I get them.


Overall view, with a good shot of the "Lumia" lasers on the tower.
They were passing out glasses made from glo-sticks which were, naturally, a big hit!

From a different angle.
A very recognizable block letter, eh?
The view from underneath the lasers, showing the screen for the video and then
line-drawing lasers, the scanning lasers, and the Lumia in the background.
Behind the scenes view from the laser position, during final setup.

Links to more photos on line:

the 'Flikr' site:

And some favorites: