Why are People so Obsessed with Space?

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow.
@national.science.foundation

It’s a genuine question, no? As someone (like I’ve mentioned before) who isn’t all that fanatic about the moon and stars and planets, and well, space, it’s hard for me to grasp the crazed excitement some people feel. Until now.

I suppose it’s the whole mystery of space that doesn’t excite me. Or should I say, it overwhelms me in such a way, I find it incomprehensible for me to begin to understand it. I’m an avid learner, but for some reason, outer space seems like it would suck up all my time. The pun was intended there, because today, for the first time in history, humans have taken a picture of a black hole.

That’s the fuzzy image you see above. Kind of boring right? Well, watch this video if you want to be able to grasp the sheer size and distance of what we’re talking about here.

So why does this interest me and space in general doesn’t? I have no idea yet. It’s almost finals week for me at school, so my life is the only thing I’m concerned about. Sounds stupid and conceited, I know. The world revolves around each student at college during finals. Everything that happens to me in the next couple of weeks is either a success or detriment. There is practically no gray area (wow I’m killing it today). When I was reading a few articles about this black hole today, I started to get this overwhelmed feeling.

I’m the kind of person that wants to know everything about a topic. If there’s a hyperlink in an article, I click it. Which typically leads me to another article within another hyperlink, leading me to another and another and another. You get the picture. So when I set out to learn about a subject (yes, I understand there are way too many things above my level of humble knowledge to truly know everything about a topic) I’m in it for the long haul.

When I say space overwhelms me, it’s the one topic I’ve avoided for years because I know how incredibly expansive it is (figuratively and literally, Sydney). It’s a foolish reason not to research something, but I just want to do it justice. For example, this black hole scientists took a picture of today, is so large that it’s almost the size of our entire universe. Now, because I don’t know a lot about space, I can’t even comprehend that. People who know a lot about space can barely do it.

It makes you feel so incredibly small and useless at times. Which is maybe why people are so fascinated by space. My finals week is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. And yet, they could also shape the rest of my life pretty dramatically. I’m not even trying to exaggerate here. This doesn’t mean I can blow everything off because “in a couple of years I’ll be gone and nothing will matter.” Why not? I’m gonna pull the classic parent move here and just say, “Because I said so.”

The fascination the world has expressed over this black hole news today just goes to show you how little we know. But that’s not a bad thing in my eyes. If you want to somewhat understand what this image is really showing us, here’s a good comprehensive video. Have a wonderful time getting sucked into (sorry, I’ done) all of the content of this stuff.

Smart Home, Smart Safes

We’ve seen an increase in gadgets within the past few years that now make our homes infinitely smarter: thermostats, cameras, refrigerators, and more. What oftentimes is overlooked however, are our valuables. Insert the company QuickSafes. If you didn’t watch the video above, I recommend skimming through the visuals. It’s not the greatest acting, but for a company that is still a startup (and family built and owned), it’s easy to overlook the cheese-factor and see how brilliant their products are.

I’ve seen hacks for the beach where you can hide car keys or money in hollowed out tennis balls, sunscreen bottles, and even Pringles cans. There’s a factor to hiding things in plain sight that seems to render it more foolproof. It’s the every day objects we always overlook – and apparently thieves especially. Now, I’m not guaranteeing this is 100% going to work, and this company doesn’t either. But, the idea behind it is pretty genius in my opinion.

In a day and age where everything is going digital, opening a safe with your smart phone is practical and efficient. They have other options, but I think the app is an accessible way for people to start being smarter about their valuables. Nowadays, cars even have apps that can start the vehicles from miles away. I don’t have a vehicle with that luxury yet, but as technology progresses, it’s often the simple – and overlooked – things that really make a difference.

These safes are actually pretty reasonably priced too. The company has glowing reviews online, and as mentioned before, it’s amazing to see a family company doing great things. As Big Tech is ever-encroaching upon their global monopolies, it’s refreshing to see a small brand with an imaginative idea become successful.

The Newest Release in Video Editing is Mindblowing

@adobe

As a design student, I’ve been using Adobe creative programs for years now. Photoshop and Illustrator are my main jams, but being in interdisciplinary classes this semester, I’ve learned a few new programs from other peers. It’s always interesting to see people use equipment that is foreign to you. I’ve had the privilege to be surrounded by amazingly talented friends who can teach me new things, and I’m so excited to tell them about this!

I’m going to use some jargon here, but if you’re not familiar with what I’m saying, definitely watch the video I’ll be placing down below.

So, for those of you that have used Photoshop before, hopefully you know about their Content-Aware tools. Whether that be the Patch, Healing Brushes, or Stamp options, there is capability to remove things from a photograph completely. Here’s an example (credit: Peter McKinnon). Notice the door to the left that disappears.

Pretty amazing, right? These tools can be used for a lot of really cool and useful things. But those tools have only been applicable to still images…until now! Adobe has released a teaser in the video below, showcasing brand new technology that can Content-Aware fill in a video! Seriously, watch it:

I don’t do any video work – or at least I haven’t in the past – but a lot of people in my studio right now are mocking up videos for our final project. Now, this technology won’t be out for a couple of weeks, but wow, this is incredible. For all of the artists and designers out there, welcome to the newest, coolest stuff on the market! Can’t wait to see what crazy things people will do with this. If you want more info, find it here.

Color Project Update

In the remaining few weeks of school, I have a lot of photos to take. I have over 200 pictures edited and placed in my catalog. My goal is to have more than 400 by the time the semester is almost over. I haven’t quite figured out my approach for the final presentation.

Color picking from photos is fascinating to me. Above, I’ve placed the photo catalog document (showing a few yellow ranges), and the corresponding swatches directly next to it. As you can see, the swatches sometimes don’t even seem to match the photo. But when you pick certain pixels – let’s look at the bottommost left picture of the doorway – the overall color you might see as a muted buttercup in the picture, ends up being on the peachier side of yellow (creamsicle maybe?) in the swatch.

I have quite a few color ranges – dark reds (mostly of varying bricks), teals (a lot of old window panes and trim), whites (mural and sign lettering), etc. – that will be showcased in the final catalog. Because I will have such a large swathe of swatches (that’s a tongue twister) I’m curious if having the corresponding swatch for each photo will be excessive.

My professor let me borrow a device that can scan a surface and tell you the exact color. It’s called a Cube. Here’s a quick video to show it in action:

My plan is to create the full catalog, see what colors are most prominent or common, and then go around to physically scan a few buildings and materials with the Cube for those hues. As for now, I’m still gathering photos and will check back in when everything is more complete!

Color Trends: Real or Fake News?

Have you ever heard of the color “First Lady Pink”? I personally had never known about it until a few days ago. I was taking a workshop with a Color and Materials Designer from Kohler during class on Wednesday. She was discussing the basic progressions of color trends in kitchen/bathroom plumbing throughout the past few decades.

More often than not, people tend to think trend forecasting – an integral part of CMF design – doesn’t mean a whole lot. Or that it’s totally fake. Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve found the best example yet.

Mamie Eisenhower, during her time as the First Lady, had renovated her bathroom in the White House all pink. She had done an interview with the news after it was completed, sharing her one-hue palette. Needless to say, all of the women in the States heard this interview, and within the next few years, bathrooms everywhere – and I mean everywhere – turned a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink.

Now, I’ve been in several of these period-correct bathrooms that have stood the test of time – their shade of bubblegum still bright as ever. You see, I had personally noticed this shade in bathrooms, but chalked it up to being the fashion at the time. I never thought more of it. Until this Kohler designer pointed it out. She said through the company’s research, they found that fixtures, tiling, etc. in the very specific shade of blush during the 1950s skyrocketed directly after this interview of Mrs. Eisenhower (just look at the advertisement I found above!).

The shade became officially known as First Lady Pink after that. I think it’s absolutely fascinating to finally make this connection (even if I learned it from someone else). It’s the connecting of dots like this that show you how trends in pop-cuture effect a vast majority of products and people. Forecasting in the art and design world is an extremely difficult thing to do. Now whenever the next person asks me to describe part of my work, I’ll be able to give a concrete example to help visualize something that quite often sounds like nonsense.

Who Owns a Mural?

Arguably one of Detroit’s most famous works of art, The Illuminated Mural (the “dripping rainbow wall” is the street-known name) has been contested in lawsuits for years now. Katherine Craig is the creator and originally painted this piece back in 2009. The wall has been the backdrop to thousands of photos, including the ones of my friends and I above, taken back when I had started college in 2014.

It has brought joy to the city since its creation, and when the building’s owner started to talk about proposed renovations a few years ago, the difficulties ensued (no pun intended). See, the remodels for the apartments were scheduled to punch holes through the mural for new windows along the side of the building. Craig pushed back, saying that it violated the art she had made. Several campaigns around the city were held to show support – #SavetheRainbow being one of the most influential.

Now, legally there were a lot of discussions surrounding all of this. You can read an older article from Detroit Free Press here. It outlines what was current a couple of years ago during the melee. The reason I am talking about it today, is because driving past it earlier this week, I noticed brand new windows had just been installed. Don’t panic – the windows now occupy the strip of brick on the left side of the facade that doesn’t have any paint. You can see the space in the photo below:

@playground.detroit

My mom actually knows Craig’s mother believe it or not. So this wall has been something we’ve personally talked about for years now. I haven’t heard much in the local press lately, so I’ve been out of the loop on the developments. I was definitely happy to see that some sort of compromise has been made. After driving past a few days ago, I knew I had to research the updates. I haven’t been able to find anything published recently regarding the situation.

I do understand the legality of the building owner having the right to the wall, but if windows really had been scattered throughout it, I know how distraught the community would be. Art – murals especially – is a major component of Detroit’s culture and people. More often than not, you hear the arts are the first to be cut from struggling schools. Art and design are extremely important in the establishment of not only ideas, but society in general. It seems like not many artists win these days, so I wanted to share a small victory I encountered this week. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you take a trip to see it in person!

Finding Your Awe

@quintessenz

What is something that inspires you? Something that just truly makes you, well, gasp. There are moments in life when you come across something so beautiful and pure, that your body is sent into this overdrive state. Your mind is blank, but at the same time, reeling with thoughts; your heart feels as if it stops, and then instinctively kicks back in to pump blood even faster. Everything is heightened.

Everyone experiences this at different times in their life. Sometimes it’s fleeting – oftentimes why people go looking for adventure – and other times, it’s more extended states of bliss. These full body experiences, where we feel unbelievably content with our lives, these are moments of awe.

I think artists and designers are special because we tend to seek moments of awe more often than others. This can be good, but also detrimental (more on that another time). I listened to a podcast recently in which – the name of the person escapes me at this moment – this individual was describing how instinctive and biological humans are. We have this innate drive to eat and sleep (amongst other animalistic behaviors) and those self-sufficiency, survivalism habits are what drive our every waking moment. Whether we realize this, or are actually aware of it, those habits are what consume us.

But, there are times in our lives – times of complete and utter awe – that interrupt our habits. Those awe-inspiring moments are what captivate us. Quite honestly, that’s what some people live for. I’ve met surfers who’ve shared their stories about traveling across the globe searching for the best waves. I have family members who have traveled across the globe for religious pilgrimages hoping to see miracles. I’ve witnessed friends receive job offers for life-altering careers that would take them across the globe. For humans, we are inclined – somehow, someway – to do everything we can to make those awe-filled moments as regular as possible.

I just experienced one of these moments. The photos I’m littering (a terribly ironic word choice here) throughout the text is what gave me goosebumps a few minutes ago. I have no idea how I came across these artists, but my goodness. Scrolling through their website, my mouth was hanging open. Photo after photo, video after video, my body went into that overdrive state.

Quintessenz is a dual-artist team that creates installation and mural work. I don’t know (yet) what it is about the art they create, but it’s something that hits me – and hard. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I was overwhelmed by awe looking at this. I’ve had moments in my life – most of these in nature – that consumed me. I can recognize these moments now (which I highly recommend you become aware of these), and this was definitely one of them.

I beg of you…please check out the website I linked above. Scroll through the endless amount of content and experience it for myself. I will tell you now, this is some of my all time favorite art to this day. If I ever find myself within hundreds miles of one of their pieces, I will make it my mission – completely ignoring my eating and sleeping habits – to see it in person.

To All of the Learners Out There

I am a naturally curious person. It’s taken me a long time to figure out that some people, are just not hardwired the way I am. Not saying my way is the only or best way, just that there are a lot of thinking processes out there. Which is also fascinating to me.

Regardless, I went to a lecture tonight in which Anna Sui – the amazingly talented, and well known fashion designer – sat down and answered a bunch of questions about her work. It’s always inspiring to hear remarkable people talk. I’ve loved her work for years, and quite honestly never thought I’d see her in person. It’s interesting, meeting famous people.

One of the hosts tonight had mentioned the famous saying, “Don’t meet your heroes because you might be let down.” I definitely have to disagree. You should certainly meet them. And I hope that you do! What an amazing experience. Just because someone isn’t the spitting image of your wildest fantasies, doesn’t mean they are a disappointment.

I find that artists and designers usually exceed my expectations every time I hear them talk in person – no matter how much I’ve previously conjured up in my mind. Anna Sui had discussed her idea about making cake-shaped purses for a show because she “loved the way the bakery next to [her] first apartment did icing on their pastries.” There’s probably some art critic rolling over in their grave because they thought it was some homage to child-hood trauma where she didn’t get a cake at her 12th birthday. Sorry, I’m being melodramatic. If you want to see a great let’s-poke-fun-at-art film, watch Velvet Buzzsaw on Netflix.

Despite all of the interesting backstories to her endless stream of art, Sui had said something tonight that really hit home with me. In response to someone telling her she was “showing off” she responding eagerly: “I become obsessed with something new, and when I finally figure that something out, I want everyone to know about it. And my way of sharing that something with the world, is through art. I just want to share.”

@anna.sui

In an industry that is shifting almost every instant, art is amazing. I’m lacking in adjectives here because quite honestly, there’s too many to list. Lazy, I know. But I think you get the point. Sui’s art is not her creating for the sake of proving people wrong or bragging about her talents. When she said such a simple, beautiful thing, she said it like a child who wants to show their parent something they are proud of.

I go to lectures and movies, gallery openings and performances, to hear things like this. In a world overrun with social media, we see curated bits of the finest and flashiest moments of people’s lives. When you go out in to the world, immerse yourself in the cultures, talk to people, listen, and most importantly learn, wonderful things happen. I’m not saying every learning opportunity is going to make a lasting impression, because life is not an Instagram feed. Sui discussed her highs, but also some of her lows. Remarkable people don’t dismiss the learning opportunities as foolish or unimportant. Sometimes, the lowest points in your life make you into the wonderful human that you are today.

Keep learning and growing. I’m still doing that. And I hope I never stop.

The Milk Delivery System is Being Brought Back

@myro

They way we consume goods has completely changed in the past few decades. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about delivery systems and how our mailing means have grown exponentially. You can order something online with one click, and have it on your door step the next day.

The simplicity of everything has become dangerous quite honestly. I don’t think about ordering things online as much as I do in person. I’ve gotten particularly good at making sure I walk around a store at least once with a potential item to make sure I reaaaaaaally need it. Nine times out of ten, within a half-loop of a store, I put that item back. I mean in grocery stores, the layouts of the aisles are purposefully designed to make you spend more money (it’s actually really interesting if you want to read more). I’ve been able to get better with that too, now that I know. Especially feeding one person; I can’t buy that 24 pack of chicken at Costco because dear goodness, I’d never be able to get through that before it goes bad.

But with online shopping, I find I’m all too eager to get that new thing. I’ve paid for subscription boxes before, because I find if I set aside $10 per month for that sample-filled box, I don’t go out of my way to browse for the full size products that will eat at my funds. Now, I’ve stopped doing the subscriptions, despite how much I’ve loved them (it’s a nice surprise every other month since I tend to forget about their arrival).

So where does that bring me to the Milkman theory? I’ve seen several companies recently edit the subscription phenomena that seems to be plaguing all of us. Myro is a great example. They specialize in natural deodorant: delivered to your door, Milkman style. Your first time order you get a case with refillable contents. Every time you start to run out of your deodorant, order a refill (you can even make it automatic if you know your sweating patterns), and boom, it’s at your door.

We’ve seen subscriptions like this before. I have friends who swear by Dollar Shave Club. They’re whole premise is just like the company’s above. Buy a razor the first time, get sent razor heads whenever you need them.

Now, you may ask, “Sydney, how is this anything like the home milk delivery system that you mentioned previously?” Let me tell you! Back in the god-forsaken olden days (hi mom and dad), there used to be a thing called a Milkman. He’d deliver milk to your front door, packaged up in glass bottles. Once you used the milk, you’d put those glass bottles back on the porch. The good wholesome (no pun intended) Milkman would then pick up those bottles, and start the process all over again. Today, we have fancy packaging and apps that do the hard logistic parts for us, but the fundamentals are the same.

Like a few recent posts, this system revolves around the mission to cut packaging waste as much as possible. Every single item we buy is in one-use packaging. It’s not a revolutionary model by any means, but in a day and age where companies want consumers to buy, buy, buy all the time, it’s nice to know they have values that reflect the new (or would it be old?) way of doing business.

Are Flying Cars just Helicopters?

Image result for car with helicopter blades
@tarafugia

Back to the Future predicted we’d have flying cars by 2015. Now, 4 years later than the promised date, we’ve only seen hints at such a technology. I’ve never been a fan of the flying car. It seems completely ridiculous to me. Especially since drivers in normal cars can barely get their act together. The last thing we need is to have some lady eating a cheeseburger with her mutt on her lap, criss-crossing across the sky in a flying tank. Talk about road-rage (technically it’d be sky-rage right?).

Yes, I know I’m pessimistic about it. I blame Neil deGrasse Tyson. I listened to a podcast with him some time ago (if you’re interested in the video clip, here you go). In that podcast he had described how the search for flying cars has already been solved: they’re called helicopters. He goes on to describe how 3-dimensional travel has already been achieved as well: they’re called bridges and tunnels. Let’s insert Elon Musk’s tunnel plan below.

So, assuming tunnels become the newest way to travel (which quite honestly is a brilliant idea), are we still going to pursue flying cars – I mean, helicopters – for the average person? I stumbled across this hilarious video last night. And yes, I know, there should be better technology than an old tin can with blades on top in a few years. But if you don’t find this terrifying, you should reevaluate some stuff. Let’s hope videos like this make the public reassess the fascination that was instilled in us from the movie adventures of Marty McFly.