Passive Toxins

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G. Mauricio Mejía. University of Minnesota – Universidad de Caldas

Passive toxins is an interactive object that explores the contemporary relationship between food and us. Eating is for many of us a pleasing activity. However, as we become aware of the food we are eating, we realize that some toxins are entering in our body. The speed of the damage is slow and hidden by pleasure. We might want to change this but the system does not allow much change. The imagery used is chalk-paint graffiti made by the author. Manipulations of reverse time, saturation and brightness are applied to support the visual rhetoric.


“Words are like boxes. Images bleed. “

Poppy fields from Nance Longley on Vimeo.

Memory, sentiment, emotion — many feelings can be conveyed more eloquently with an image than through the written word. Even though words can have several meanings or be used in multiple contexts, they tend to be specific. An image can tell a unique story each time it is viewed, even when viewed by the same person several times. Words are individual symbols for language whereas a picture is an entire story.

With this in mind I used the poppy field image I had worked on all semester and combined it with a few photos from a 19th century prairie town in southwestern Minnesota. I chose an evocative track from Andrew Bird to pull the piece together. All of the pieces have a personal resonance for me and my own story, so it became very satisfying to see it all come together, despite my novice-level Flash skills.

I was fortunate to come across these wonderful photos through a friend of mine. They were taken by Rev. John Gmeiner, a priest in southwestern Minnesota at the turn of the last century. Gmeiner documented daily life in his parish with a large format view camera using glass negatives. He photographed with the empathy of someone who knew his subjects well — a boy with a half-eaten cookie, a gang of girls whirling in a circle on the school playground, an unhappy little girl, then the same girl with her mother (but still not happy). These are just a very few of the everyday scenes and stories he captured of the life in that little town on the prairie. Adding these images to my hand-hewn prints made more sense than a dancing lady and was more personal.

I created the flexagons as a “souvenir” piece partly because I love how they work (especially with a hidden “bonus track”) and also because they are a nice complement to my set of prints. Here’s a guide to the folding/unfolding process to see the sixth side after you get to the fourth side (with lots of  text). —Nance

Bison Bison

—from Jess

Bison Bison is a continuation of my second project, exploring both time and the exchange of information between two things… but this time taking the form of a concertina book prototype. It’s a prototype in terms of ink and paper, but I also see opportunities for further collage/image exploration.

All images were captured from motion, either video stills or by moving an object across a scanner while its being scanned. The images were then taken into Photoshop, and CMYK channels split into four grayscale files each. From here, I selected one channel to bring into the collages and colorize in InDesign as monotones.

The concept of audience/spectator as part of an image’s interpretation/meaning heavily influences this project. Here, bison are combined in the character of Rorschach ink blot tests—the viewer sees what he/she wants to or is looking for. The bison themselves begin to take on an abstract fuzziness. The concertina book format mimics a landscape, and time is explored both in generating the  images as well as paging through the book.

Chaos is just another word for…

Magic. Serendipity. Luck. As designers and artists we walk a fine line between chaos and order. If we lean too far in either direction our work does not make sense. We need to allow room for chance and decide whether its occurrence is beneficial to our goals. Making order from chaos, like fractals and Pollock, can provide us with a frame to hang our ideas on and provide clarity without being deadly dull. Ideas often come out of a medley of random thoughts. We float through them until something catches us and makes us look at it more carefully. Sometimes the order doesn’t reveal itself until later, as with my own work for this class, but it’s important to trust the process and let events play out before giving up on an idea.

Speaking of ideas — The Year in Ideas, my favorite issue of the NY Times Magazine is out this week. There’s one for you, Anna. Take a look at “Turbine-free wind power”. Enjoy!

— Nance

chaos + perspective [neil]

The comtemplating chaos article was an interesting presentation of chaos theory utilized in a range of functions and media. When seemingly chaotic/random events are found to have natural underlying order, it forces a change in perspective.

Changing perspective also changes what we might consider chaotic. A market filled with people in an urban landscape can seem very chaotic when you are immersed in the hustle. The same scene, viewed from the top of a skyscraper – may be seen as having strong patterns and order.

This change in scale and its affect on perception can be seen in very minute and seemingly simple systems – to very large and complex. Looking at a cell under a microscope – you can see order, structure, and patterns of “behavior”. These patterns are easily recognizable under greater magnification. Molecular structures, and the behavior and interactions of molecules are scientifically predictable and ordered.

Increasing magnification to the atomic subatomic levels, however, changes everything. The protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up everything we know, can only be expressed in terms of probability, and the atoms they form are almost 100% empty space. Magnifying even farther, the subatomic particles that make up these miniscule particles are actually created from, and disappear into – nothingness.

Depending on our perspective – the human body can be seen as an ordered structure of organs, systems, and tissues intertwined in a complex system evolved for survival – or as a conglomeration of infinite physical probabilities.

As a designer, this introduces intriguing ideas about what constitutes chaos, and what constitutes order, when imply changing our perspective can turn one into the other.

Ordering Chaos, from Anna

I appreciated the article on Chaos theory, and Jackson Pollack because it explained that chaos wasn’t actually random. It made me think of how everything is connected in some way and can be organized by other criteria than time and linear patterns. These days, there’s so much out there to influence us, and one little tidbit of info. can swerve us in another direction. Example: in Alex’ s other article on theory (a great intro -could have used that 2 years ago!!) Sergei Eisenstein’s writing on montage was mentioned. The word “montage” is lovely, and stuck out at me. I found out who this Eisenstein was, and looked at examples of his film concepts. This informed my project for Design Studio; I had been stuck on how to make transitions, and there were several methods to use!

I wish the article would have explained more about how Pollack used fractals, I couldn’t really get a visual. Another interesting coincidence, I had just watched the hollywood movie about him (Ed Harris plays Pollack), which was emotional and visually rich.



hello all-

here  are the links I wrote down on my readings in case you don’t want to enter them: