Formation

As a teenager I have two jobs after school. The first: I am an apprentice on Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) milling machines in an aerospace lab. The second; an astronomy instructor.

As I descend the painted metal stairs and linoleum landings to the basement of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Lab at the University of Colorado, the soapy aroma of coolant emanates from the collection basins below the machines. A Confucian aphorism graces the wall in laser cut acrylic:

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

I earn my 10,000 hours of Computer Aided Design (CAD). The essential aim of CAD is to conceive without impediment. In an ideal form, no obstruction exists between thought and creation. The titanium nitride teeth of the milling tool obliterate the high grade aluminum with unforgiving precision, under the dictate of an automation that transforms a virtual model into an artifact of matter.

In contrast to the bright Colorado sunlight that fills the windows of the engineering lab, the Fiske Planetarium is a dark sanctuary. The black and fire-orange musty carpet and chairs bear three decades of wear and dampen all of the dimly scattering light.

The soft, curving dome glows a faint red. The light fades to black and the density of the dark is felt. From the center of the room, the star projector emerges from a deep well in operatic fashion and casts the pin-point light of thousands of stars across the ceiling. At the helm of this display, I am the master of the universe and the guide to the stars for the young audience that is taken in by the majesty of space.

I know the feeling well, as I was once a youth seated and staring upward, my senses captivated. I see virtual reality as a way to capture the senses, and also to enter the data set.

The combination of these formative experiences have led me to pursue a vision of immersing my mind in data. I want to feel a deep understanding and a resolved comprehension of algorithms. I also want to experience the joy of discovery, again and again with all who are keen to learn. This is the creative force at the heart of Primitive.

“Fritz” — Fiske Planetarium, University of Colorado