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SFPC Spring 2019: Week 8

By Bomani McClendon

Video recap of our eighth week by Yehwan Song.

From Sketch to Public Art Installation

The final week of classes has arrived! In one of our most interesting classes to date, Zach Lieberman opened his Gmail account to show us how he organizes public installations projects. During this class, Zach chose one project from 2015 to talk through — showing the initial inquiry, scoping documents, materials, budgets, and final work. It was specifically interesting to learn about the challenges that arose in this project and the steps that Zach took to resolve them. Zach implemented a CLAHE filter to correct for the facial recognition issues that occurred when faces were too shadowy, set up remote access to all of the computers running the software, and used ofxWatchdog to notify himself of any crashes in the project. Many of these techniques are used to help maintain consistency in Zach’s current installations at Frieze Art Fair NYC.

Example of the CLAHE filter’s effect on a face.

Towards the end of class, we discussed plans for our final project. We considered adding to the Re-Coded project, playing with 3D motion capture data, using Kinect contours, or creating videos of some of our class project. Come to the final SFPC showcase on May 11–12 to see what we come up with!

Algorithmic Policing

Our final Dark Matters class focused on the chapter “‘This Is a Story About Nerds and Cops’: PredPol and Algorithmic Policing” from Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism. During American Artist’s in-class lecture, we reviewed the history of algorithmic policing technologies such as PrepPol and CompStat. These software show police heat maps for areas of likely crime and direct additional police forces to those areas. In the text, Wang explains how police are using algorithmic approaches to help assert their legitimacy by appealing to statistics and science. American explained how this expectation of crime in a specific locale can influence police organizations to use repressive policing strategies that aim to incite self-discipline but instead lead to the extreme over-policing of the targeted community.

In our small group discussions, we talked about our final works for the Dark Matters zine (pick one up at the SPFC showcase on May 11–12). Our full group discussion focused on the fundamental statistical flaws in predictive policing and how scientific rhetoric is used to bolster this increasing dangerous approach to policing. At the end of class, we watched American’s collaborative video project with Rashida Robinson, Director of Policy Research at AI Now Institute, for the 7x7 event at Rhizome.

Solenoids, Fusion 360, and Inflatables

In Wednesday’s hardware class, Che-Wei Wang of CW&T taught us about variable resistors, solenoids, 3D design with Fusion 360, and inflatables. During class, we setup a DIY solenoid that functioned as a simple linear actuator. Later, we designed a custom motor shaft adapter using Autodesk’s Fusion 360 product. Che-Wei told us how to import 3D parts from McMaster-Carr, organize components, draw new 3D objects, and export to them for 3D printing, CNC, or laser cutting. Lastly, we looked at the soon-to-launch Programmable Air project, an open-source hardware kit that allows makers to control air. Che-Wei also showed us a few different types of plastic that we could use for inflation projects and discussed plastic sealing techniques.

DIY Solenoid

Dolphins and -isms

Scrapism class began with a share of our homework assignments on video composition with MoviePy and videogrep. Afterward, our teacher Sam Lavigne showed us how to import functions from other Python scripts we wrote. Using this approach, we composed a bot that emails a GIF of dolphins overlayed with the name of an “ism” from the Corpora dataset and a Flask-based website that produces a GIF with text that was typed into the site.

At the end of class, students shared feedback on the course with Sam and TA Fernando Ramallo. This was a great opportunity to reflect on what we had learned throughout the course.

Greg Sadetsky’s Scrapism homework using granular synthesis.

Trip to Pioneer Works

On Friday, Celine Katzman led a field trip to Pioneer Works, a non-profit cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. At Pioneer Works, Tommy Martinez (Director of Technology) and Angie Meitzler (Tech Labs Coordinator) gave us an in-depth tour of the huge space. Dustin Yellin, the founder of Pioneer Works, also gave us an introduction to his practice as a photomontage artist. In the Media Lab room, Pioneer Works residents Ryan Kuo and Alicia Mersy talked to us about their backgrounds and discussed some of the projects that they’re currently developing.

At the end of the trip, most of the cohort traveled over to Defonte’s, Celine’s favorite Italian sandwich shop. I’d definitely recommend the Valentini Special!

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