Invest in Furniture Futures! Plant Your Old Growth Now!
I'm doing a workshop for fellow graduate designers at CCA this Friday. You can't come, but it's pretty cool, so here's the description. Poster design by Lawrence Lander. I'll post pictures of the results in a few. Making A Chair Really Fast, or an exercise in quick decision making and following an idea through to the end
Each participant will be provided with three (3) 8' foot 1"x4" pieces of standard construction wood. I will give a very short lecture about chairs (in some nominal way), and they we will all go upstairs to the workshops. The project asks that you, using all 24' feet of the wood (no more and no less), to make a chair of your own design. It doesn't need to be useable, beautiful, or even interesting. It needs only to have some arguable relationship to the idea of "chair". We will get into this more at the workshop. You can attach the wood to itself in any way you want – screws, glue, nails, magic, rubber bands, string etc. etc. etc..
This is an exercise in taking a gesture, a move, a decision, and flowing it through to the end. It is about making something fast, but complete. It is about having fun in the shops, getting your hands dirty, and letting yourself be free to making something tangible.
You don't need to be good at making things to participate. In fact, it might be more interesting if you aren't self-described as "good at making things". Or you can be good. It doesn't matter. What matters is knowing that, in two hours, you'll go from concept to sketch to finished product (or however you feel like working, but you should have a concept, right? This is design, isn't it?), and be ready to talk about what that concept was, and how it manifested in the chair that you built.
See you all then.
This short video shows me using an adze to peel bark and prep stumps for seats. Physically it's highly cathartic. We are often so distanced from our bodies even in workshop settings. The adze is 100% manual. The process of picking up a new tool, using it, gaining experience and incorporating that back into the hand work is immediate and satisfying. You can almost watch yourself learn. There is a dance between the stump, the tool, and the body. The stump moves away as the work progresses, needs to be pulled back in. The work goes on, and the cycle repeats. Scroll down a bit, and press the play button.
[video width="960" height="540" mp4="http://www.imperfectevidence.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Seat-Tool_RES2.mp4"][/video]
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Chairs for Sitting is an experiment in radical presentness. We sit, often for hours in our day-to-day lives, at work, at school, at home. We sit because we have to, and where we sit is expected. Sitting, to most of us, is a means to be positioned to be doing something, and otherwise mentally engaged. But sitting has the means to be an alternative practice of being radically present in your body in time and space. To sit and be with yourself. To have started a small trip of discovery out of your routine and into the unexpected.
Chairs for Sitting is an ongoing project that asks you to go out and find chairs that have been located at specific sites in the landscape. The entirety of your journey - the transition from your fast paced, urban existence into a natural space, the exploration and walk into the landscape, the settling onto a crafted chair - has been made to transition you to a place of awareness and attentiveness. Each chair, each space, takes you away from your daily life, and offers you the opportunity to focus. Your body activates the chair in the landscape and elevates the moment. As we find new locations where the enmeshment of sacredness, calmness, and nature intersect, we will install new chairs to be discovered and post new maps to be found. These chairs are not permanent fixtures in the landscape; they are not installed, only placed. They are possibilities. They may not be there anymore, already.
This chair is located on the top of Mt. Tamalpais, in Marin County, California. Go forth.
DeployEngage Disrupt Transcend Generative Metrics Constraint Emergent Tactics Incursion Radical Decenter Hyridize Awareness Grid (verb) Practice Process
The third in the series of attention stools. Cast from concrete, the stool asks the user to engage with the process of arranging and sitting with a greater volume of physical investment than stools usually require. The engagement emphasizes the noticing of the body, extended physically, the tectonics of the object. The act of sitting also becomes slightly dangerous. Senses are fully engaged and tension is created in the moment. In my work as I progress, I want to look at this line of danger, expectation, safety. Richard Serra is perhaps the master of this moment of tension and this space. There is lightness and grace in the massive forms and negative spaces that he creates, at the same time, a tension highlighted by the balancing and near breathlessness of the form's touching each other.
These benches were constructed with reclaimed wood found in San Francisco. They were actually my first built project this semester, but I did not get around to dealing with the photography for a second. The wood was cut and assembled into a simple, geometric bench. There is no mechanical fastening, instead, plastic bottles were harvested from recycling bins. The bottles were cut into strips - the whole bottle into one, continuous ribbon. After wrapping the joint, heat was applied with a heat gun. The plastic strips shrink, creating a tight, strong bond against the wood. The benches embody many layers of meaning. They are what Buckminster Fuller would call "knots" - assemblages of territories forming into concrete form. Two versions of the bench were made. The first was a proof of concept. The second emphasized using the plastic material as minimally as possible.
Teeter, for two. Me and you. You and me. Getting on and off the teeter requires focus and communication. The users need to talk to each other, agreeing when the interaction begins and ends. Attention is required, but only a certain passive awareness - tension and noticing. A letting go into the other. A reading of the other's body in space and time.
Awareness stools. Plywood. The closed version is a prototype for form, the open version can lightens both the physical and visual weight of the object. The user needs to maintain a certain passive attention to sitting, facilitating increased consciousness and awareness of the body in space, and increased attention on small movements, as well as enhancing concentration to inward events (meditation) or outwards (the classroom, for example).
Awareness chair. A deconstructed and reconstructed Ikea Stefan chair from a waste pile. The user needs to maintain balance - an incursion into the simple daily act of sitting and paying attention. Posture, focus, awareness.
I made a set (well, 16 sets) of meditation beads for my thesis project work last week, and ran a short meditation using the beads as markers of breath. My thesis continues to evolve into a space of presence making and awareness tools. The beads are a fairly linear approach to the concept, too binary to maintain a deep investigation for my thesis, but interesting to test nonetheless.
As I move forward with my project making, I am comfortable that I am operating in the appropriate territorial space without necessarily knowing exactly what my project is going to be. I recognize that I am still establishing borders around the outside of my project area. It remains easier to make “things,” and see what my project is not, rather than what it is. I feel secure that as I move forward and continue to make things that my project will manifest itself, that the process – engaging with and following – will yield the results, the critical tension that I need to hold my project area together. I can create a narrative trajectory of the work that I have made this semester, and the thought processes and logics that bind it together. I am still experimenting, learning through making while reading and actively thinking. I am engaged in research while still participating in making concrete “things” that test out operational potential generative intensities. I also recognize that the time for concretizing is coming closer. But I remain in this space because I believe that it is the correct space for me to be in at this time.
I intend on continuing to make, to push forward, and push boundaries.
The Long Con ekes on.
Process is progress. Progress is process.
A lot of adventuring happened this summer. A lot of thinking, reading, running around in the hills, and jumping into the water. And you fell by the wayside. But I never stopped thinking about you. And I missed you. So here I am again. It's thesis time. Which is great. And hard as heck. But I'm going to try and bring you in real quick like. I'm still developing my thoughts, the space I'm occupying, it's liminal points, but I can try and bring you in.
I am setting out to bring people back in touch with the land. I believe that a distance from the land, from nature, is both a root cause and effect of the hyper-connected, dematerialized world we live in today, a world that is struggling to stay alive, productive, and in some ways relevant in the face of the massive taxation of resources we extract. That's my goal. I'm still setting out parameters on how this all goes down. Are they tools to use, affording a multiplicity of settings, allowing users a degree of agency in meaning making? Are they discrete objects? Am I setting out processes and conditions? I know I want to work with waste streams - incorporating, folding them back into use, creating structures, objects, tools, and/or systems that opportunistically reengage with the post-industrial by-catch of late capitalism.
I'm calling my thesis The Long Con. We inherently live in conflict with nature, and we, as a culture, play the short game with nature. Our thirst for increasingly more, increasingly faster, burdens nature. We disrespect natural resources. We are running out of nature, our of the current resources at our disposal. Our economies are short-sighted, plastic, perhaps sustainable but not resilient. The Long Con acknowledges that we live by the tolerance of nature, so our relationship still remains a con, a sort of pulling one over on nature to allow us to live, grow, and thrive. And we can learn to play the long game, The Long Con, by perhaps working with objects that facilitate an updated way of looking at the past akin to traditional modes of seeing and interrelating, of balancing inputs and outputs, of seeking not balance, but dynamic resiliency.
The time is rapidly coming close to a point where I need to know what I'm doing more than I know right now though. I'm trying to wrap my head around conceptual art, infrastructure, architecture, ecology, zen, philosophy, speculative fictions, psychedelics, and rapid prototyping. I'll keep you involved from now on. I am finding it easier these days to articulate what my thesis is not, rather than what it is. I think that up till this point, establishing liminal points, outside boundaries, has been effective, but I think that going forward, it is becoming increasingly critical to articulate my thesis in positive terms, that is, what my thesis is and what it contains.
Both more and less thinking is required right now, to a degree. The thing to do is keep moving forward, to keep making work.
And I'll leave you with these things that I've made so far in my thesis work:
a mapping of regions / spaces / territories, placing myself in the center, the tension holding organism of a set of territories with no active "center"
a bench made from re-used lumber and shipping pallets, and string cut from plastic bottles and melted with a heat gun to make joinery
Above Projects is live, and things are starting to go up for sale. Above Projects is a small and nimble staging ground for ideas and product development, from my hands and heart, to your home. Please check it out. More will be added as it is designed and made. Thank you. We can now go back to regularly scheduled programming. But also - stay tuned out there.