String Theory of Eames
Considering string, its most enticing feature to me is its continuity and reach. Yet, its physicality makes me uneasy—it can’t reach into the web and through your computer, after all. The subject, characteristics of good design thinking that applies cultural anthropology, as presented by the Eames in their India Report, is an important one. Yet, just like physical string, academic articles are trapped in their own world. I use social media like string, connecting new users to important ideas. Like the ethos of the blogger behind Brain Pickings, I also believe that older innovations contain value for contemporary audiences. When tasked by the Indian government to examine how The country’s design philosophies can be evolved to improve quality control, the design team produced the India Report. In it, they deconstruct a number of design concepts through the lens of an old innovation, the lota—a transportable water jug. Through stringed words, a textiling animation, and POP, the above GIF aims to make their transferable, important ideas more shareable so that their spool of thread can extend beyond the design classroom. Share unselfishly! MK NYC
Found: College movie review from Tribune editor-taught journalism class, 2007
Cinematic Cigarette in the American Ashtray
By Margarita Korol
March 12, 2007
The doors of a mirrored elevator slide open to reveal a close up shot of stunning Alicia Keys with sleek boots up to her thighs and bangs down to her brows. Any other night the splendor that is Keys descends to stroke the ivories and blacks of a piano with a sugary disposition; but tonight, she is Georgia Sykes: professional lipstick-red assassin disguised as prostitute on a mission to kill Buddy Israel. This is “Smokin’ Aces,” and it does not come in pink.
Brigades of assassins like sexy empowered black women, neo-Nazi hicks, and ex-cops race to slaughter and tear the heart from Buddy “Aces” Israel played by Jeremy Piven, an ex-Vegas magician with dirt on the elite Italian American mob while he lays low, hopped-up, in Reno. Meanwhile, the FBI unit worked by Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta and led by Andy Garcia who, with an unbefitting Southern drawl reminiscent of Dubya, commands war on the mob world by saving Israel. Through the scopes of loyalty and vengeance, Carnahan’s “Smokin’ Aces” approaches delicate subjects like the Middle East crisis, attention deficit children on Ritalin and race in America with a hard swinging baseball bat.
Joe Carnahan, Mauro Fiore and Clint Mansell manipulate script direction, cinematography, and score, respectively with a healthy assembly of cast and crew to develop a hybrid-genre cinematic experience in “Aces” as it uses the conventions of noir in chronicling betrayal and corruption and life between good and bad while convoluting into a genus of thriller, comedy, action and drama.
Camera work and editing under Fiore’s direction creates rich yet darkly hued frames, breaking for dramatic heat as in Israel’s most coked up state in the bathroom with skin vividly sallow and eyes almost see through cobalt blue and bloody crimson. It is the collection of this aesthetic, fast framework and Mansell’s exciting score that successfully establish a fresh pulpy flavor like that of an over boozed screwdriver.
Golden Globe nominated Clint Mansell also worked on the scores for “Lord of the Rings” and “Requiem for a Dream,” and “Pi,” and produces for “Aces” a feel that is suspenseful, funky, and provocative. Beyond Mansell’s work, “Aces’” playlist creates an energetic yet nostalgically intoxicated mood reminiscent of the tracks of Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” or the Coen Brothers’ “The Big Lebowski,” the latter of which Carnahan claims to have been influenced by through their film, “Raising Arizona.”
Sadistically violent at first and second glance, the film appears over dramatized and under justified for such gratuitous murder. The tiny hands of Keys grasp a pistol masterfully, as the burly ones of nihilists prefer to exterminate with uncontrolled chainsaws while mustachioed à la Adolph by way of Sharpie. Then again, maybe Carnahan is making a point; consider the characters as pawns of an allegory that he denies to be too “far-flung.” Exploring the film’s themes and criticisms sheds light on its parable for the American condition in 2007. For instance, US audience reaction to the film in the tapering box-office sales reflects public opinion. “It was just too violent,” said viewers in leaving theaters. Perhaps the global state of war in 2007 is “just too violent” for the public, too.
“Smokin’ Aces’” can take on the dark role of the cigarette in 2007 America, dubbed wrong and unwanted by the public masses, but craved ever so ardently by individual addicts. And while Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg, and Daley declare a war on terror in banning huffs outside of 15 feet of a bar; Bush, Libby, and Carnahan stake claims on all the Buddy Israels in the world for their personal Manifest Destinies.
Keys as Georgia Sykes and Taraji P. Henson as her partner, Sharice Watters, still glowing in post-“Hustle and Flow”-success, encompass professional killing machines in American Army fatigues. Elsewhere, one of the three neo-Nazi Tremor Brothers named Darwin, soulfully played by Chris Pine, indulges Carnahan’s illusion of a pro-Bush degenerate Southerner (look for a juicy long-needed metaphoric confrontation between this republican and a war veteran amputee, Martin Henderson).
Meanwhile, the ailing, drug-addled, prisoner in his own high rollers suite Buddy Israel embodies the Middle East and comments on the shaping of Western perceptions of it as he asserts to his ever-loyal assistant Ivy, brilliantly played by Chicago rapper Common,
What do you see right now? You see exactly and only what I choose to show you. That is illusion Ivy that is the lie that I tell your eyes. Makin’ the magic happen in the moment, in that split second. I can shape it, I can shift it, I can make it as real as this room. That is why I am valuable here Ivy and that is why you are not. I am sorry, I love you, I never wanted it to be like this, you know that.
The characters of the “Aces” entourage stick because of their humanness: loyalty to projects and people of their own world like partners in crime and love, money, and an old raggedy head of the mafia, Primo Sparazza played by Joseph Ruskin. The movie takes a critical look at just what these allegiances entail in the pain of lost partners, opportunities, and sanity.
Ryan Reynolds thrives outside of his typical Van Wilder-esque party boy role as FBI agent Richard Messner playing hero in a Reno casino. Reynolds’ character flails down the empty elevator shaft of reality as his optimistic devotion to his job and partner are brutally interrogated. Reynolds astoundingly represents a complex character, bringing liberal and FBI into one being. His partner played by Ray Liotta appears in his second Carnahan flick after acting in and producing Narc (2002).
Themes of obsessive loyalty, vengeance, and selfish gain cloaked in serving the greater good in “Aces” are the coordinates for the American warplane on autopilot. The public cringes with one eye open at the shooters, sex, and cigarettes. Perhaps they should open the other eye for another viewing beyond the blood, suggests Carnahan. “Smokin’ Aces” is available on DVD in April, and possibly at The Vic’s Brew and View later this year.
Written and directed by Joe Carnahan
Edited by: Robert Frazen
Photography by: Mauro Fiore
Production designed by: Martin Whist
Music/ score by: Clint Mansell
Produced by: Working Title Films
MPAA rating R
Length of film 108 min
Chicago ♥ 3D Printing
Last night dozens of Chicagoans congregated at ThoughtWorks’ headquarters to revel in the growing connectivity in the community over 3D printing technologies. Dutch-based 3D Hubs gave us the excuse to celebrate, announcing that their Chicago operations were officially under way. The online network that connects owners of 3D means of production with those who want to use them worldwide joined forces with the popular Chicago Hardware Startup Meetup and Catalyze Chicago for the night that featured live demos with local Isis3D and ProofX. Speakers provided real world applications including JP Brown on 3D scanning and printing at the Field Museum, and Mike Vasquez, a materials engineer in sports technology.
JP Brown of the Field Museum. He says their new exhibit on biomechanics is “the coolest thing we’ve done in years.” He showed stills from the photogrammetry process of capturing a cheetah via 400 pics and also the process of CT scanning a decades-old pickled cheetah, which freaked everyone out, in a good way.
“3D printing in sports is all about functionalizing and customization,” said Mike Vasquez who worked with New Balance and Burton among others in the sports industry, which he says is a great platform for testing new materials. The main technologies that companies are using in sports are powder based, namely laser sintering, which is cheaper than tooling for injection molding. He showcased improvements to basketball player wheelchair technology, snowboard bindings, and footwear. Mike’s currently doing a listening tour for HereEast, and he invites you to get in touch.
Kendra of 3D Hubs (sporting glasses printed by the folks at Isis3D) said the company was started by two Dutch guys who realized that there are 150,000 3D printers in the world running at 95% idol capacity, presenting huge opportunity to connect.
I had originally stumbled upon 3D Hubs in February in search of a last minute printer for some seasonal hearts I set my sights on printing and stringing on pimp gold chains for an upcoming art sale at Revolution Brewery. The week before, I visited one of the gurus at Pumping Station 1 to execute my first 3D printing project, a design I found on Thingiverse. It was a pretty empowering experience that left me wanting more, and I was happy to locate one of the twelve Chicago hubs, a civil engineer named Anthony who owned a couple of machines. A couple days later, we met at a Starbucks in Wicker Park where Anthony handed off a satchel of plastic hearts and we geeked out over printers. I’m planning on getting my little brother in San Diego a PrintrBot Simple so he can open his own hub.
PEOPLE ON THE SCENE
JB Brown, the night’s opening speaker from the Field Museum who was hilarious. Some nuggets of insight from him:
- Consider CT scanning for 3D models with significant interior structure, like mummies (Got any lying around?). He recommends Drishti.
- JP voiced concern about the technology; while it is great for scaling, there are issues with permanence: “The idea that you’re going to be able to print the exact same thing (in 40 years) is naive and stupid.” Good for rapid prototyping, bad for archiving.
- They use Blender freeware at the Field Museum, and JP recommends very expensive photogrammetry software: “If you’re doing this for real Acute 3D is what you want to be using,” which apparently in comparison to 123D Catch, “blows it out of the water.” They also use Mimics.
Tom Burtonwood, whose 3D printed book project blew me away—the book he showed me was made of two printed pages (he’s aiming for 10) and features a bas relief of the Ogden Ave Bridge House. You can remove the pages from the ninja flex binding and smush Playdoh in the back to basically create your own 3D photocopy of the Scipione Del Camp original from 1932. WHAT.
David Montoya, a Colombian Thoughtworks developer based in Atlanta who saw 3D printing with his own eyes for the first time last night and was as taken as I was by it the first time.
An artist who found the event through a recommendation from his soccer Meetup
A theater props designer who uses 3D printing for modeling
Bill Fineup and Daniel Lindmark from Catalyze Chicago, a maker space with an entrepreneurial edge, gave insight on how their space not only provides tools for making but also mentorship to help seriously propel ideas into reality. Said Daniel, “We want Chicago to be a place where you can live, raise a family, work a good engineering job, and play around with science.”
Brian and Nick from Rev3Dupage, a digital manufacturing incubator like Catalyze Chicago in the burbs, that’s creating entrepreneurial effort and bringing along the communal spirit that comes with this ecosystem. They’ve managed to get Home Depot sponsorship for their projects, and it looks like their expansion is going to be making the suburbs cool (finally).
CHICAGO SECOND TO NONE
Chicago’s take on 3D printing is one that stubbornly fuses spirits of collaboration, democratization, and especially entrepreneurship. As a beacon of industrialization, it seems natural that last month Obama chose Chicago and Detroit neighbor Canton, Michigan as the new innovation hubs for new Pentagon-run operations, a federally funded boost to manufacturing technologies stuck in the Ford-era. Mike Vasquez encapsulated it best in describing applications of the technology in practical ways that are “not just something you can look at on your desk.”
The hardware “ecosystem,” as Marina of ThoughtWorks put it (who recently visited 3D printing communities throughout the Middle East), is providing a welcome platform for bonding of Chicagoans beyond neighborhood boundaries and even into the suburbs. Kendra Egle of 3D Hubs said, “For the first time in history products can be produced from the bottom up versus top down.” While there are over 3100 hubs worldwide, Chicago has 12, which will grow with the city’s co-evolution with the technology over time. 3D printing seems to be a great equalizer that has potential to uplift our city’s innovators, workers, and students collectively, as long as there isn’t another Mayor Daley.
Margarita Korol, whose bold, evocative art often illustrates Tablet stories, has been a longtime member of the Tablet family. Even when she moved to Chicago last year, she remained an important part of our extended team of collaborators. She’s written an article for Oy!Chicago that so perfectly encapsulates her spirit—fearless and hopeful even in the face of strange and unexplainable adversity—that I wanted to share it with our readers on this Valentine’s Day.