A weekend in Michigan: Exhibitions, Robots, and MSU

A few weeks ago, I made my first trip to Michigan and traveled from Detroit to East Lansing to visit my collaborator, Rebecca Tegtmeyer at Michigan State University. She and I have been working together remotely since 2013 researching design collaboration & technology, and have been developing collaborative drawing robots since about 2015. You can see some previous posts about our research here:

Expanding the Robot Family: An update in collaborative drawing tools and speculating future design possibilities

Exploring the Wild and Weird on Vancouver Island with Design Inquiry

Since we published and presented work last year, we have been working on many types of technical upgrades to our drawing robots including enhancing movement and drawing capabilities through physical (hardware) and digital (software) development. We are also developing interface upgrades with new drawing functionalities. With so many new developments going on, this past year has been a divide and conquer sort of year, where the main goal has been to prototype and test as many new robots and drawing platforms as possible.

Sweet Tea, one of Rebecca’s new robots (built in collaboration with partner Tom Nelson), was recently featured at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in the MSU Faculty Triennial show. Sweet Tea is the first robot in the family to be featured in a gallery space and she can receive texts from museum-goers (and anyone really who has her number) and responds to them by drawing. Either forward, back, right, left, she responds to commands and draws on the canvas in real-time. The result becomes a series of collaborative drawings between all participants who engage with the project.

With some institution funding, I was able to travel to MSU for the opening reception, and we met with Michelle Word, Director of Education, Brian McLean, Manager of Public Programs, and Meghan Zanskas, Museum Educator: K–12 and Family Programs to discuss the possibilities of a robot workshop for the upcoming “Future Lab,” part of MSU Science Festival, focused on STEAM education.

During my visit, we also spent some time in Detroit and walked along the Riverfront Conservancy, looking across the river to Canada. We stopped in the historic Guardian Building to admire the art deco architecture and rode through Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.


Public Art Energizes Atlanta’s Creative Culture at Flux 2010

As a designer and an artist, I’m always trying to see work in and around Atlanta whenever possible that is inspirational and fun. Sometimes it can be difficult to see everything going on in town… there are so many events, shows, and exhibits that you really have to pick and choose what to check out. And of course, sometimes I miss things that I should probably go see… but not last night!

Over in the streets of the Castleberry Hill Art District, a one-night public art celebration ensued throughout the spaces of downtown Atlanta, presented by Flux Projects. The streets were immersed with art and people and the community was alive with passion! The event, called Flux 2010, included large and small-scale projections (like the escaped zebra), beautiful dance performance and music (I loved the white tutu’d dancers and the flutist with the stop frame animation backdrop). There were just so many wonderful pieces including more light installations, multi-media projects, and public interactions. There was even a room filled with fog that delighted the senses!

For a listing of the artists and projects presented at Flux, click here.

You can gauge a bit more about who Flux Projects is and what they are about by reading their mission statement below. Overall, fantastic night… Good art and great energy!

“Flux Projects supports artists in creating innovative temporary public art throughout Atlanta. The organization produces new platforms for artistic experimentation that engage a broad audience in their daily lives, beyond the walls of traditional arts venues. We challenge artists to make exceptional, surprising work that inspires Atlanta and fosters an awareness of the richness and diversity of the city’s creative culture.”