Dog Star / A Creative Arts Guide






Image above: Vik Muniz

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère after Édouard Manet, from the Pictures of Magazines 2 series, 2012.

Out of the refuse of modern life—torn scraps of outdated magazines, destined for obscurity—Muniz has assembled an ode to one of the first paintings of modern life. Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, painted in 1882, explores the treachery of nineteenth-century Parisian nightlife through the depiction of a bartender attending to a male patron reflected in the mirror behind her. Muniz plays on Manet’s style, replacing Manet’s visible brushstrokes with the frayed edges of torn paper and lending the work immense visual interest.

“Thank you for DogStarNYC, in general. The site speaks to so many kinds of interests; it discerns which qualities will appeal to many different tastes in a tremendous number of activities. I love how it encourages young people to pay attention to the unusual.

In New York we let so many teens walk around the periphery, mildly shell-shocked by life, while the information that they need to make sense of their world sits in the center of the room. DogStarNYC welcomes them into the middle of the room; the blog tells them how to walk there. ” - Stacy L.


DOG STAR is the creation of a high school English teacher in New York City. This blog began in 2008 as an online community for a journalism class and has since evolved into a curated site on the creative arts, arts-related news and a guide to free and low-cost events for teens. Our mission is to offer teens real-life options for enjoying all the creative arts in New York City. May wisdom guide you and hope sustain you. The more you like art, the more art you like!

IMPORTANT NOTICE OF NON COMMERCIAL & EDUCATIONAL CONTENT Unless otherwise stated, we do not own copyrights to any of the visual or audio content that might be included on this blog. Dog Star is for criticism, commentary, reporting and educational purposes under the FAIR USE ACT: Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. If you own the copyright to any images and object to them being included in this blog, please advise and the content will be removed. No attempt is made for material gain from this blog's content.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Above the Trees in Central Park (Met Museum's roof!) - Bring your friends!

High school students get in free at the Met Museum and this great summer weather is the perfect time to discover the Met Museum's rooftop sculpture exhibition.  The best part, really, is to be above the trees in Central Park and see the fantastic skyline views across the city!  Met Museum here!

Burj Dubai Skyscraper to be World's Tallest, NYC's Buildings Mere Dwarfs by Comparison

Hip Hop Generation Block Party

Saturday August 6, 2-8 pm 
Simpson St. (between 163rd St. & Barretto St.), Bronx 10459 - FREE! Rain or shine!
To view image click here.

Facebook Friends on Tattoo Sleeve. Really? That's a good idea?

Dog Star Selects The RAMM:ELL:ZEE by MOCA

Following the death of the Queens-born artist, performer and iconoclast Rammellzee last year, the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA has released this short video piece commemorating his school of “Gothic Futurism.” Rammellzee  (whose name was based on the mathematical equation for magnitude) was not just one of the founders of New York hip-hop and a graffiti world influential but also a true street philosopher – tidbits of his prose on anarchy from Iconic Panzerisms can be found in the video. 

The RAMM:ELL:ZEE from MOCA on Vimeo.

Japanese Artist Suu Creates Banana Sculpture Heads!

DOG STAR says our whole staff loves bananas and we also love art, but Japanese artist Suu, managed to combine those two things by making great banana carvings.  Can you sculpt something creepy on a fruit or vegetable of your choice?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Discover the Frick!

DOG STAR enjoys Sunday afternoons at The Frick Collection (more here) and it's a perfect spot for a quiet date with a special person or just go with friends.  Remember our DOG STAR ADMISSION TIP: Pay $1 every Sunday from 11am-1pm! (The Frick's policy is "pay-what-you-wish" during these hours!)

Internet, Teens & the Knowledge Economy

DOG STAR caught this episode of NEED TO KNOW (here) on PBS and know that devoted teen readers will find one of these stories very interesting:  the future of the world will be based on what is being called the "knowledge economy."  This means that those people - teens of today - who are most able to adapt to changes in technology and participate in a global communication network will be the ones competing for jobs.  Sadly, the story explains, the United States lags far behind in our ability to keep up with the changes in the global economy because our internet service is so slow and so outdated.  It is ironic that the nation that invented the internet now ranks 16th among modern nations (first world nations) in internet services providers.  While Sweden has the best internet service in Europe, the story features the Netherlands and their ability to navigate the newest kind of superhighway.  This is a nation that built canals in the 1600s and railroads in the 1800s to move people and services and is at the front of the pack for technology in the 21st century.  Staying informed about global changes in technology and the economy is a key part of the "knowledge economy" so consider ways you can be part of this to be more successful!

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Street artist Shepard Fairey Hits NYC this Summer!

More information and photos from Shepard Fairey's recent visit to NYC at Arrested Motion (here)

A Conversation with Jamel Shabazz

I picked up my first camera… because I had a strong desire to document my friends and immediate surroundings. Thirty five years later, that desire is stronger than ever.
As I evolved both as a person and photographer… my curiosity to learn about human nature and various aspects of photography became more intense. I started to venture out of my community and visit other regions of the country by way of railroad. On these self assignments, I would take to major cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Virginia, and Atlanta. Once there, I would venture out and photograph people in a similar way as I did in NY. During my leisure time I would visit museums and various cultural institutions. These expeditions would help to develop my love for traveling along with strengthening my inner vision.
The most notable change in the landscape of New York… for me is the loss of the World Trade Center. It was there that I started my first bank account and both bought and processed most of my film (Kelly Photo.) It was there where I entered my first health food store and learned the value of eating food that was more beneficial to my body. The World Trade Center was my compass; if I was lost I could always look towards them to guide me back on the path. Another important landmark that also has a special place in my heart was the Albee Square Mall in Brooklyn. Back in the 80’s, the mall was the nucleus of all activity and a popular hangout spot for young people. For me, it was the perfect location to meet folks and document their lives.
Working with Umbro happened… because Paul Daligan, an esteemed representative of Umbro, contacted me and presented the general idea for the campaign. Upon hearing it and all that it involved, I agreed.
When setting out to shoot this first campaign for Umbro… my only concern was creating positive results.
In New York, I see soccer… growing leaps and bounds due to the large influx of immigrants from countries where soccer is the number one popular sport, I am now seeing numerous games being played throughout various parks in the city. Just the other day while strolling in Central Park, I saw a group of young soccer players all wearing Umbro Jerseys, undergoing some serious drills while under the watchful eyes of their coaches. Soccer is now replacing mainstream American football in the public fields and I am also seeing an increase in the amount of young girls playing like never before. I strongly believe that soccer is going to mushroom here in NY and set the tone for the entire country.

Dog Star Selects Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House as New International Star of Architecture

DOG STAR first encountered Zaha Hadi's architecture when the Chanel Art Container arrived in Central Park.  Hadid designed the serpentine structure for the unique art installation inside (we were lucky enough to go three times and the director told us we were the only school group who had come).  It was very difficult to get tickets but we got them and it was very special.  Then, we heard Hadid designed the newly-built art museum near Rome called Maxxi and now this opera house in China.  While we like Frank Gehry (he designed the new silver undulating apartment tower next to Pace downtown) and get excited hearing about the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub designed by Santiago Calatrava, we have to stand up and applaud Hadid for her game-changing attitude towards buildings and architecture - never again can we ever expect a building to be four square walls and a roof! In this video, The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey recently caught up with architect extraordinaire Zaha Hadid during the opening of the Guangzhou Opera House in China earlier this month. Aside from a great view into the structure, we get some insightful commentary from Zaha herself about her newly built creation.

Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE GUARD Trailer (Don Cheadle is great in this new movie!)

FREE! Discover "Otherworldly" Landscapes at Museum of Art Design: Charles Matton in Focus (Part 4 of 4)

DOG STAR saw this recently in The New York Times and knows you will like it, too!  On view now at the Museum of Art & Design (here) until September is a show called "Optical Illusions." in which artists from around the world use models, scale and dioramas to create imaginary landscapes.  Some of the artists create the models to photograph and others build them to display on their own.  The NY Times featured four of the artists and we will post one each week in July as a little bite from the exhibition.  We think you'll like these tiny worlds - and the mini-introduction to them - so much that you'll definitely want to go and see the exhibit.  Museum of Art & Design is EASY TO REACH at Columbus Circle / 59th Street & Broadway and ALWAYS FREE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WITH I.D. - bring adult friends and family on Friday nights when you can pay just $1 from 6pm-8pm!  Here for the source at The New York Times to see more artists and slideshows.

After a long career as a designer, illustrator and filmmaker, the French artist Charles Matton (who died at 77 in 2008) began creating his mysterious boxes in 1985 (more here). “It all started because Charles wanted to make realistic paintings of interiors,” said his widow, Sylvie Matton. But whenever he chose a space, “the colors on the walls were not the right ones” or “he would have to wait hours for the sun to set,” she said. To solve the problemMr. Matton started building miniature rooms, which soon grew so richly detailed that he wanted to make them for their own sake. “It was not like, ‘Oh, I am going to do boxes,’” Ms. Matton said. “It was a whole adventure of creation.” His subjects included the studios of artists like Francis Bacon and Giacometti, the empty halls of grand hotels and the libraries of Proust and Freud, for which he researched and modeled each individual book and bibelot. His longtime friend the philosopher Jean Baudrillard referred to the tiny atmosphere-packed environments as “theatrum simulacrum.” Mirrors create the illusion of labyrinthine corridors and make the interior of a box appear larger than its confines. In the library, above, with nine views, Mr. Matton amplified the confusion by introducing a ghostly figure — a video projection — who prowls the shelves without casting a shadow. “We love it when people try and understand” how a box is made, Ms. Matton said, speaking as though her husband were still alive. “But we also love it when they just accept the fact that it’s there as a magic thing.”

Dog Star Selects “The KAWS Effect” Interview (NY Times link below for full story!)

The New York Times’ T Magazine recently caught up with Brian Donnelly, best known as KAWS, for an interview regarding his recent Companion move to The Standard New York as well as other details about his career as an artist and entrepreneur. 
Where did your signature “X” come from?  Before I got into painting over ads, I was just working traditional graffiti. And that kind of led me into painting over billboards. So, in 1993, I was still doing letter stuff, but I just started incorporating it into ads. I’d stand there painting while cars went by.
How did you make the jump to go to the School of Visual Arts (SVA) and study illustration?  Ever since I was little, I wanted to be in the arts, I just never really saw it as a reality. So, when I got out of high school, I took a semester off just ’cause I didn’t know what the hell to do. And I figured I would go to SVA and when I got in there, that’s when I realized there’s always opportunities and I got superfocused. I feel like from entering school till now, it’s just been like ch-ch-ch, you know, just working.
What inspired you to go to Tokyo when you graduated from art school?  To be a ninja, like everyone else, of course. No I’m just kidding [laughs]. I just went to Tokyo ’cause, like, at the time, these guys Stash and Futura who were already working over there were super-embraced and, you know, I was always interested in Japan, it just seemed so far away and so different than New York. So, it was just a place I wanted to check out. There were some people making things in New York, but it wasn’t with the, I don’t know, same seriousness, I guess, as the kids who were making stuff in Japan. Like what Nigo was doing, you know, with A Bathing Ape. The attention he was giving to the product, to the store — it was just trumping everybody, worldwide. There was no one that was making stuff for that market, in that way. When I went the first time, I was like “I need to be working here with these guys.” And then slowly, it kind of bounced back to the U.S. When I was going there in the beginning I had friends that were like, “Why do you waste so much energy toward Japan?” And I just always thought, Well that’s where like the creative kids are. And that’s where I went.
Is that how you came to make products and toys?  The toy thing was just a coincidence. I’ve always loved editions, I’ve always loved the pop artists like [Claes] Oldenburg and [Tom] Wesselmann and what they were doing with Gemini — making silk-screen editions, which I was also interested in. But then they would do these objects as editions and then there were sculptures. I always saw making sculptures as so unobtainable, like you need patrons. So when the idea of making a toy came up, it was like the only way I could see my work three-dimensionally. So instead of making this monumental 10-foot thing at the time, I made a thousand 8-inch things. But it was with the same sort of attention given and the same quality control. The sculptures I’m trying to make now, I want them to feel and look like the toys that I was making.
And what about graffiti? Do you still tag?  No, I haven’t tagged in like 10 years. For me it is something I enjoy seeing. I have friends that are involved, I just, you know, my interests have changed. I just enjoy other things at the moment. There are people who only know the toys I make. There are people who only know the graf I did. And, you know, I’m probably reaching new people that are only familiar ’cause they go to the galleries. Or maybe they just know the clothing and don’t know, you know, that I happen to paint. … So it really just depends on the entry point. I prefer to not compartmentalize myself.
The interview in its entirety is available here.

Imaginary Dog Star Soundtrack: We're bumpin' to Nina Simone's FEELING GOOD with great covers by others - Bird flyin' high, you know how I feel! Sun in the sky you know how I feel! It's a new dawn, it's a new day for me! And I'm feeling good!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Film Festivals

Outdoors or indoors, for free or for a fee: Summer film screenings come in all stripes. NYC ARTS brings you a list of some of our favorite summer cinema spots, many of which are indeed free-of-charge.
Coney Island Film Society: Rock & Roll Summer
BrooklynSat, May 14, 2011 – Sat, Sept 17, 2011
Click here to view the Rock & Roll Summer film schedule. Free screenings of rock and roll films take place at the Coney Island Museum all summer from May 14–September 17, 2011. All tickets are $6. Doors open at 8 pm with pre-show entertainment, featuring classic drive-in trailers, short films, old commercials and more, begins at 8:15 pm. The feature begins at 8:30 pm.  More
Intrepid Summer Movie Series 2011
ManhattanFri, May 27, 2011 – Fri, Aug 19, 2011
Click here to view the Intrepid Summer Movie Series schedule. The USS Intrepid celebrates heroes from the movies with its third annual, free Intrepid Summer Movie Series on the flight deck. After the May 27 kick-off, dates are June 24 to August 19. More
HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
ManhattanMon, June 20, 2011 – Mon, Aug 22, 2011
Click here to view the Bryant Park film schedule. For the 19th year, Bryant Park hosts outdoor film screenings at sunset on Monday evenings. Snacks, meals and refreshments are available at Bryant Park food kiosks and restaurants. The lawn opens at 5 pm. More
EPIX Movie Free-For-All
ManhattanThurs, June 30, 2011 – Thurs, Sept 1, 2011
Click here to view the Tompkins Square Park film schedule. This free movie series in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, running on Thursdays from June 30 to September 1, is sponsored by EPIX. More
Outdoor Cinema 2011
QueensWed, July 6, 2011 – Wed, Aug 17, 2011
Click here to view the Outdoor Cinema 2011 film schedule. These free, Wednesday film screenings offer ample grass on which to stake out a claim with a blanket or a chair, performances by local musicians and dancers (at 7 pm) and international films on a large-format screen—all set against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. More
ManhattanWed, July 6, 2011 – Wed, Aug 17, 2011
Click here to view the RiverFlicks film schedule. RiverFlicks for Grown-Ups returns for another summer. This year, the free outdoor film series is screening blockbuster films from 2010, giving everyone a chance to see last year's hits that they may have missed, or maybe just want to watch again.  More
EPIX Movie Free-For-All
BrooklynWed, July 6, 2011 – Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Click here to view the McCarren Park film schedule. This free movie series in McCarren Park, running on Wednesdays from July 6 to August 10, shows classic hits from the 1990s with two outliers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) and Ghost World (2001), thrown in for good measure. More
Syfy Movies with a View
BrooklynThurs, July 7, 2011 – Thurs, Sept 1, 2011
Click here to view the Movies with a View schedule. The 12th season of Brooklyn Bridge Park's movie series takes place this summer on Thursdays at Pier 1's Harbor View lawn. Each screening consists of a New York-themed movie, a short film curated by BAMcinématek, DJs from Brooklyn Radio to kick off the evening and bike valet parking provided by Transportation Alternatives.  More
Movies Under the Stars: Terrorible! Terror Through the Decades
ManhattanWed, July 13, 2011 – Wed, Aug 17, 2011
Click here to view the Movies Under the Stars schedule. Riverside Park's Pier 1 at 70th Street plays host to a chronological (and free) series of horror films spanning the 1930s-90s. Movie goers can bring a picnic, if desired. The outdoor screenings begin at sunset. More

Discover Governor's Island this weekend with free tours, bike rentals and a picnic

DOG STAR likes a FREE field trip and this is one of New York City's best!  Take a ferry from South Street OR from Brooklyn at Pier 6 (foot of Atlantic Avenue and Columbia Street) to the former Coast Guard station in New York harbor for free bike rentals, picnics, concerts and tours of the historic buildings!  Brooklyn Ferry only runs on Saturdays and Sundays.  Photo above shows island-wide art installation of sculptures by Mark di Suvero sponsored by Storm King Art Center.  Thsi year many, many events and parties are planned for teens and families, so make a plan to visit this wonderful NYC spot soon!

CAT IN A BAG! We think this pic is really funny! (Shows how little it takes to be silly AND creative!)

HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE FLEA LATELY? Now in a new Williamsburg location on Sundays! (Bring your friends!)

DOG STAR likes to regularly stop by the Brooklyn Flea for inspiration, great lunch choices from specialty vendors and maybe find an inexpensive treasure (a book of poetry?  an old guitar? a DVD missed seeing?) Apr 2—Nov 20, 2011

Fort Greene (Saturdays)
176 Lafayette Ave. (between Clermont & Vanderbilt Ave)
Williamsburg (Sundays)
27 North 6th St (between Kent Ave & East River)
The Brooklyn Flea, Brooklyn’s own source for top antiques, vintage furniture and clothing, handmade goods, jewelry, design objects, and locally grown and prepared foods, moves outdoors to Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Science Identifies the Saddest Movie Scene of All Time (The Champ, 1979)

Science Identifies the Saddest Movie Scene of All Time
Photo: Warner Home Video
It's in The Champ, the 1979 Jon Voight movie about a washed-up old boxer and his adorable son, played by Ricky Schroder. A couple of researchers figured out that showing people the two-and-a-half-minute climax of the film, which you can watch here, was the easiest way to get them crying without punching them in the face. [Smithsonian viaMoviefone]

Happy Birthday Stanley Kubrick

DOG STAR knows devoted readers have their favorite films and favorite movie directors.  Our friend Dan is a HUGE fan of Stanley Kubrick (more here) who is famous for his unique visual style.  He would have been 82 today but died in 1999.  Here are three of Kubrick's most famous films, there are many others!

Banksy in Hollywood


It is so pleasant to come across people more stupid than ourselves. We love them at once for being so.
- Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)

Monday, July 25, 2011

FREE! Lincoln Center Festival Starts this Week!

Enjoy longstanding favorites and discover something new when the 41st year of Lincoln Center Out of Doors brings three jam-packed weeks of world-cass music, dance, and spoken word to the plazas of Lincoln Center.  It all gets underway on Wednesday starting with The Big Busk, a day of communal music-making led by Britain’s folk-punk rocker Billy Bragg. Also this week: The Ponderosa Stomp’s Girl Talk featuring LaLa Brooks and Lesley Gore, Mavis Staples, and a new work conceived and performed by Eiko & Koma. And it’s all absolutely FREE!  Don’t miss a moment—view the complete season!

Talk to Me! MoMA Opens New Exhibition on Interactive Technologies

The Museum of Modern Art presents Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects from July 24 to November 7, 2011. With nearly 200 projects ranging from the microscopic to the cosmic and all designed in the past few years or currently under development, the exhibition explores design’s new terrain: enhancing communicative possibilities, embodying a new balance between technology and people, and bringing technological breakthroughs to an approachable, human scale. These projects include interfaces, websites, video games, tools, charts, and information systems on topics global and local, public and personal. ALWAYS FREE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK THIS SUMMER!

Whether openly and actively or in subtle, emotional, or subliminal ways, objects talk to people. As the purpose of design has, in past decades, shifted away from mere utility toward meaning and communication, objects that were once charged only with being elegant and functional now need to have personalities. Thanks to digital technology, these objects even have the tools to communicate through their interfaces, adding a new interactive dimension. Contemporary designers, in addition to giving objects form, function, and meaning, now write the initial scripts that are the foundations for these useful and satisfying conversations.

Talk to Me highlights the groundbreaking ways in which objects help users interact with complex systems and networks. It focuses on objects and concepts that involve direct interaction, such as interfaces for ATMs, check-in kiosks, and emergency dispatch centers; visualization designs that render visible complex data about people, cities, and nations; communication devices and other products that translate and deliver information; expressive and talkative objects; and projects that establish a practical, emotional, or even sensual connection between their users and entities such as cities, companies, governmental institutions—as well as other people. The exhibition is loosely divided into six sections, according to who or what is doing the talking, from objects to other people, the city, and even life.

Greeting visitors at the entrance to the exhibition is Yann Le Coroller’s Talking Carl (2010), an iPhone and iPad app in which a box-shaped creature responds to sound and touch, gets ticklish and jumpy, and repeats what visitors say in a high-pitched voice. Other interactive features in the exhibition include a working NYC MetroCard Vending Machine (1999), designed by Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger of Antenna Design, and David Reinfurt, Kathleen Holman, and MTA New York City Transit, and manufactured for MTA New York City by Cubic Transportation Systems, with special Talk to Me MetroCards available for purchase; Kacie Kinzer’s Tweenbots (2009), little robots that roam the Museum asking visitors for help crossing galleries; and Tentacles (2009), a multiplayer video game created by Michael Longford (Mobile Media Lab, York University, Canada), Geoffrey Shea (Mobile Experience Lab, Ontario College of Art and Design), and Rob King (Canadian Film Centre Media Lab) that visitors can engage with on a giant screen.

A device called a BakerTweet (2009) by the design firm Poke is installed in the Museum’s Cafe 2, and staff will use it to announce by Twitter the moment when something delicious pops out of the oven, or the lunch specials of the day. The feed is displayed on a screen in the exhibition and also seen by followers of @MoMABakerTweet on Twitter on their own devices. Each object in the exhibition has its own hashtag and a QR code, which allows visitors to bookmark it and access more information about each object on the exhibition’s website,, in the galleries, or at home.

The exhibition is divided into six sections:
This section includes physical objects and interfaces that are not just communicative and reactive, but are also interactive. Some are explorations of things’ and humans’ behaviors—such as Kinzer’s Tweenbots, small, constantly moving cardboard robots armed only with flags that ask passersby to point them toward a particular destination. These Tweenbots will roam the Museum at specially announced times during the run of the exhibition. Other featured objects are functional, such as the interface for the MetroCard Vending Machine. The machine in the exhibition dispensesspecially designed MetroCards, which will also be available at subway stations throughout New York. The MTA’s Vending Machine was selected because of its outstanding interface, which leads customers through the process of buying MetroCards in a manner that is efficient, no-nonsense, and visually memorable, in true New York spirit.

At home, in the office, or on the road, people are increasingly surrounded by specialized companions and expressive digital pets. Some live in multifunctional devices, like Le Coroller’s Talking Carl, while others are autonomous, demanding to be seen and heard from their own bodies. Michiko Nitta’s Mr. Smilit (2003), for instance, is a toy that reacts to the noise of a child’s cry with a cry of its own, which may cause the child to stop crying and care for the doll. By integrating old-fashioned objects such as books and cuckoo-clocks with mobile applications, designers have created a hybrid of old and new, physical and digital. Mike Thompson’s Wifi Dowsing Rod (2007) provides comfort to people who may be overwhelmed by current technologies. Thompson has adapted the familiar form of a divining rod—believed in the past to beable to locate underground sources of water—into a tool that seeks out and indicates the strength of the unseen wireless signals that are all around us.

I’m Talking to You
This section explores the communication between people—and within individuals—by means of objects. The human body and mind—and how they express themselves in ways previously unthinkable thanks to digital technology— are the central agents and subjects of study in this section,. Some of the featured concepts are quintessential products of the time, mixing irony and malaise about interpersonal communication with curiosity and an eagerness to overcome these obstacles creatively. Alarmists fear that people’s reliance on digital communication has turned them into restless souls that, despite exchanging information and thoughts around the clock on blogs and social networks, can no longer articulate ideas and emotions; several of the design hypotheses in this section were generated to compensate for this, either psychologically or physically.

From Sascha Nordmeyer’s Communication Prosthesis (2009), a plastic smile that covers the lips and exposes the gums, making communication more explicit by forcing automatic facial expressions to help the socially awkward, to Gerard Ralló’s series Devices for Mindless Communication (2010), a range of communication interfaces that help the socially inept, designers have been quick in pointing out the absurdity and poetry of our present condition, as well assome possible remedies. Critical design is at its brightest on this human scale, with highly conceptual—albeit also highly descriptive—scenarios that explore the possible benefits and probable impacts of new technologies, often using dystopian narratives to heighten the urgency.

Not all the projects are speculative; some are pragmatic, and the one prompted by the most urgent conditions is also the most lyrical: EyeWriter (2009), created by Zach Lieberman, James Powderly, Evan Roth, Chris Sugrue, TEMPT1, and Theo Watson, is an interface that enables a paralyzed graffiti artist to tag buildings with his eyes using a remote control laser. It demonstrates that necessity and emergency can give rise not simply to particular solutions for extreme individual cases but also to breakthroughs for society at large.

Located adjacent to The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby on the ground floor of the Museum will be the video game Tentacles. Players begin the game in the dark at the bottom of the ocean, each controlling a squidlike form evolving out of the primordial ooze and hunting for life-sustaining microorganisms called tenticules. As each creature eats, it grows and is confronted with other players’ growing creatures, which can steal its tenticules and deprive it of nutrients. Players must decide, the designers say, if they are out for themselves or willing to be part of the larger whole, making for a dynamic and philosophical public game.

Designers search for the meaning of life in their own empirical and suggestive ways. Some narrate life from birth to death—as Jason Rohrer does in his video game Passage (2008)—and others zero in on the most minute and mundane moments, such as tooth brushing or procrastinating: Benjamin Dennel’s poster Brushing Teeth (2009) shows kids and adults how to brush their teeth, while David McCandless’s poster Hierarchy of Digital Distractions (2009) is a pyramid diagram of the interferences constantly gnawing at attention spans in this socially networked, dataconsuming world.

The question of the meaning of life is so enormous and profound—and life itself so difficult to perceive in its entire trajectory—that society must rely on synthesis and description, two characteristics of visualization design, in order to capture its range. Scientists and statisticians have long used visualization design to make sense of complex behaviors gathered in large data sets; in this exhibition, designers employ it to help society understand the ultimate mystery. In some cases this daunting task is approached through narrative, such as Christien Meindertsma and Julie Joliat’s gripping book PIG 05049 (2006), a deadpan investigation of the deconstruction and afterlife of a slaughtered pig. Frank Warren’s PostSecret (2004) offers a peek into the darkest corners of the human soul. In this mail-based project, people anonymously send him postcards with their deepest secrets written on them, expecting neither judgment nor absolution. The haikulike confessions have the power to haunt readers much as they have haunted the individuals who contributed them.

Thoughtful projects in the exhibition connect religious practices and rituals with contemporary technology. Examples include Soner Ozenc’s El Sajjadah (2005), a Muslim prayer rug that lights up when correctly positioned facing Mecca, and The Prayer Companion (2010), by the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths University London. The T-shaped device scrolls global information across its ticker-tape interface, informing an order of cloistered nuns based in Northern England of world issues that could benefit from their prayers.

Because of its density and complex infrastructures and systems, the city relies on communication for its own sheer survival. It is an environment of continuous negotiation and navigation, based on codes of behavior that are timeless—the basic laws of human cohabitation—but often unwritten. These codes demand relentless adaptation and renewal.

With their ideas and products, designers can enhance clarity, civility, and engagement by involving citizens in the maintenance of the codes that keep the city alive. Designers can also stimulate the flow of communication that is the vital lymph of the urban organism. This section shows the changed role of designers—from creators of form and function to enablers, inspirers, and facilitators—in particular detail.

Using technology, designers can enhance a sense of neighborhood, like with the BakerTweet, all the while helping us to communicate effectively, feel pride in our cities, and find inventive ways to get along, as with Chromaroma (2010) by Toby Barnes and Matt Watkins of Mudlark. Chromaroma uses an existing infrastructure—London’s transportation systems—as a platform for a real-time game in which commuters sign up to play using their Oyster cards, a form of electronic ticketing used in Greater London, and then are grouped into one of four teams, where they rack up points with each journey and strategically complete specific tasks and missions. Technology can also enable authorities to coordinate routine and emergency responses, as with Electronic Ink, Inc.’s 911 Command Center Radio Control Application (2006), an emergency-response interface that helps dispatch critical resources more efficiently and with fewer errors.

Over the course of the twentieth century, people’s perception of the world has been transformed by momentous technological breakthroughs, among them air travel, telephones, television, satellites, and the Internet. Faraway people and places have come within reach, if not physically, then via video or audio. The world seems to have shrunk, but in reality these innovations have added layers of understanding and communication, making that same world deeper and richer with new metaphysical and expressive dimensions. Newly conceived virtual worlds, such as the myriad sites and artificial environments supported by the Internet, have further diversified the choices for inhabitation, with interesting social and cultural consequences.

What most of these technologies have in common is the fact that they are based on systems and rely on network connections, just like the natural world. Understanding their designs should be and often is a requirement for those building these physical and virtual environments, such as designers, architects, and engineers. For those who are not willing or able to understand the systems but still need access to them, there are interfaces that function as zones of engagement and exchange.

One of design’s foremost directives is to bring technological breakthroughs to a comfortable and understandable human scale. The projects in this section deal with both natural and artificial systems of all dimensions. There are efforts to render complex phenomena, such as the way trees work in Alex Metcalf’s Tree Listening installations (2008–09). Metcalf designed a listening device, powered by solar energy, which is placed on a tree trunk, linked to an amplifier, and connected to headphones that hang from the branches of trees in various locations in London and around the United Kingdom.

Through the headphones, passersby can listen to a tree’s inner workings—a ―quiet popping sound‖ of the water passing through its cells or a ―deep rumbling sound‖ produced by the tree’s movement. The installation joins science and art in a multilayered interaction with the natural world. Erik Hersman, David Kobia, Ory Okolloh, and Juliana Rotich created Ushahidi (2008), a free Web-based tool for collecting, visualizing, and mapping information. The service, whose name means ―testimony‖ in Swahili, was launched in Kenya in 2008, when a disputed election caused riots to erupt across the country. The website enables citizens to report incidents and identify safe spaces, using their mobile phones, on the geographic platforms Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, OpenStreetMap, and Microsoft Virtual. It was recently put to use during the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Double Entendre
In this world of constant communication, ignorance is not considered bliss and misunderstandings can be missed opportunities. Moreover, there is the possibility of multiple interpretations, which can be channeled to add depth to a dialogue. To fine-tune their efforts, designers have become engaged not only in the classical principles of their education and in the typical preoccupations of their trade, but also in the basic tenets of cognitive science and scriptwriting. They are tackling new issues that have become central to our daily activities, such as negotiations of privacy and anonymity in the public theater of the Internet.

Central to their research is the role of translation and interpretation. Many people have devoted their lives to helping us understand others, and this section contains design solutions for curious humans who want to experience what it feels like to be something or somebody else, whether a menstruating woman—as in Sputniko!’s Menstruation Machine–Takashi’s Take (2010), a metal belt-like device equipped with a blood-dispensing system and electrodes that stimulate the lower abdomen, replicating the pain and bleeding of the average five-day menstruation period—or an inhabitant of a parallel universe, as in 5th Dimensional Camera created by John Ardern and Anab Jain of Superflux, which shows a number of parallel and different timelines as posited by the many-worlds theory.

Examples in this section also focus on the translation of experiences—color and light patterns into music, virtual links into physical ones, colors into touch, touch into text. Examples include Konstantin Datz’s Rubik’s Cube for the Blind (2010), which features embossed braille words on the squares for each color; Dan Collier’s Typographic Links (2007), which reimagines hyperlinks as physical red threads in the pages of a book about typography; Design Incubation Centre’s Touch Hear (2008), which consists of a finger implant a person uses to go over a word or phrase in a book and an ear implant where the user can listen to its related information, such as pronunciation or meaning; and Toshio Iwai’s Tenori-On (2004), a handheld device with a gridded screen of LED switches that plays synthesized sound and light patterns.

With actionable proposals and visionary clarity, designers have joined the ranks of those encouraging cross-cultural understanding. Their activist efforts work toward simple goals: acceptance, or at least tolerance; curiosity rather than rejection; and a more fulfilling, organic, and just way of living together.