Archive for the 'mit' Category

Gira Telmexhub

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011


Photo by @carrerajj

Last weekend, @paseusted invited me to take part as a speaker in a new technology event called Gira Telmexhub. The first round of conferences took place in the city of Puebla, where I joined an interesting group of people to exchange ideas about technology, creativity, and all kinds of social issues. A couple of projects that called my attention were basetrack.org presented by @terukugayama, and publiclaboratory.org presented by @321adam.

I used my time on stage to tell the story about my days in the MIT Media Lab, how I got there (thank you G), who I worked with, what I learned and achieved, and how this experience helped me reshape my ideas about art and technology. Some time later, I uploaded a PDF of my slides, following a request to share them I got from a member of the audience on twitter.

Millions of Markets

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

This is an update to a previous note on some video work I recently finished for the Center for Transportation and Logistics at MIT. The videos are now available in the FutureFreightFlows YouTube channel. I chose Millions of Markets to be featured in this post because it offers an interesting vision at the gateway of the Technological Singularity. Regardless of the questionable veracity of its claims, the so called Technological Singularity is a fun thing to fantasize about. I really can’t wait to be synthesized, augmented, cloned, and uploaded.

Here is the official explanation of the project, as found in the FutureFreightFlows YouTube channel:

This video is one of four fictional newscasts to be aired on 2 November 2037. They are all part of the Future Freight Flows project run at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) for the National Academies. Four separate future scenarios were developed over the course of a year through a series of focused expert panel sessions, practitioner acid testing, and industry wide surveys. The key driving forces and critical uncertainties were identified and formed the basis of the underlying scenarios. While originally designed to be used for freight transportation planning, they can be employed for a wide variety of different planning purposes. To find out more, visit FutureFreightFlows at MITCTL or send email to future[at]mit[dot]edu.

Finally, here is a flickr group with photos from the shoot.

Between 2D and 3D

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

This is update from a previous note. A few months ago I modeled a few cartoon characters using an experimental modeling application developed by Alec Rivers at CSAIL. Working with it is actually a hybrid process between drawing and modeling. After drawing a few views of a cartoon character from a few basic two dimensional shapes—front, side and top for example—the software tries its best generate all other views required to look at the character from any p.o.v. in three dimensions. An iterative process lets you refine the views that don’t look right, rearranging and deforming the original shapes, until you build a two dimensional character that can be looked in three dimensions from any angle. Hence the name of the project: 2.5D. I believe using this software can be significantly less confusing than my explanation. Alec and his collaborators are definitely more clear in the paper that was featured in Siggraph this Summer. If you visit Alec’s project webpage you can actually download the software and play with the models I made—or make your own—provided that you can run Windows 7 or Vista in your machine.

The character featured in the picture combines features from Disney’s Stitch and the little green aliens from the Toy Story series.

I am not sure if a version of this technique will ever become an industry standard. It all depends on how much smarter computers will become in the future, but it’s a good reminder that the creation of new digital tools is an open door to new forms of expression, even within the constraints of traditional forms like cartoon animation.

Why Design Now?

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Form follows function in this year’s National Design Triennial exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. The densely populated show features a collection of design efforts that range from solar powered energy towers taller than more than two Empire State buildings, the iPhone, a new generation of eco-friendly coffins, Twitter and Etsy, to modular prosthetic limbs and fool-proof condoms. It’s impossible not to feel the futuristic pull while walking through the galleries of the Museum.

After graduating from the Media Lab in 2008, I worked for a year with Jhonatan Rotberg in the Next Billion Network that is featured in the Health section of the show. Along with some time full of wonderful experiences, working with Jhonatan got me inside the opening event of the National Design Triennial as a featured exhibitor last Thursday.

I believe the exhibition itself is the most eloquent answer to the question posed by its own title.

CSAIL Toons

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

This fall I worked on a top secret CSAIL project, modeling toon characters with an experimental system that I can’t talk about until it goes public. This job has reminded me how much I love cartoons in general, and how I should be doing more of those, and less of other things.

Cartoons sit halfway between realism and typography, still kind of faithful to some aspects of realism, but conceding a lot to symbolic representation. It’s not that cartoons can’t represent things faithfully, cartoons choose not to do so in order to communicate things better.

Cartoon shapes and environments can’t be fully defined in terms of geometric systems and mathematical modeling, forcing the intervention of the human component that is the essence of many deep cognitive questions. Cartoons are Gestalt at its best, and they are also fun as hell.

Futures of Entertainment 4

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I am working with Ana Domb on this website for the MIT Futures of Entertainment 4 conference.

Thank you WordPress and Arras Theme for the engine and the template.

OpenStudio Archives

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Yesterday my friend eomsco inaugurated his flickr account with a bunch of OpenStudio drawings that he saved when OpenStudio was still a functional web application. His drawings are some of the most brilliant cartoons I ever saw in OpenStudio, and it filled me with joy to see them around again. I have my own little collection of OpenStudio drawings in flickr, and I am positive that many others must have interesting similar backups forgotten in some corner of their file systems. For this reason alone it made sense to create an OpenStudio flickr group. Buza, roadrash and burnto have already added some content to the group, and Buza has just uploaded the first 200 in a collection of around 900 user profile pages that he crawled and rendered in early 2008. If you were ever an OpenStudio user, can you find yourself there? Please join the group and share your collections of OpenStudio art if you have them.


Featured illustration: Who’s there by eomsco.