project: Marah

project management for the things that really matter

2009 Winter Show at NYU’s ITP

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Twice a year the Interactive Telecommunications Program (itp) @ NYU opens its doors to the public.  Students share their recent works and the result is part trade show, part science fair, and mostly creative chaos.  I enjoy this event, the conversations it sparks, the hubbub,  and the opportunity to see what’s next.  The projects vary widely – from new uses for video/telepresence  — to ways to leverage twitter for managing microfinanced inventory systems.

And there are generally robots and video games.  What’s not to love?

In the aftermath of the Nor’Easter I made it to NYU.  From 3 – 5pm I traipsed through gradually filling  hallways and rooms, playing, being intrigued, amazed and disgusted.


sonicPoetry : An electrically amplified typewriter, for composing and performing sonic poetry/prose/etc

GraffBot:  This guy wants to draw on the side of a building without putting his life in danger.  The mockup included a joystick, servos, stepdowns.

His project from this time last year was a rotary phone booth that took a picture every time you picked up and dialed a number. (


Current : A visual representation of what’s trending right now.    I’m a big Edward Tufte fan, and welcome new visual presentations of data.  This version uses the WebSurf from the 90s and takes it to next level.

TrendLines: leveraging Boxee and available trending twitter/news topics to create video clip play lists.

Un-Plug:  using a light sensor (light sensors seemed to be big this year) this is a device designed to unplug your powerstrip once you leave a room and turn out the lights. and

Un-Plug reminded me of SmartOutlets, a piece from 2008 :

This guy re-visioned a powerstrip targeting phantom loads and identifying unneeded usage, killing the power at the outlet source when you removed your keys off the weight sensor-ed hook


Dynamic – Ground: 7 interconnected hexagons that move in a continuous circular movement, driven by one central servo motor, which is activated by a light sensor.  This was a beautiful piece.


Organic Veals:  Meat Puppets. Literally. This woman decided to make marionettes out of veal, and have them slowly animate (with slurping sound effects) on a puppet stage.  What this has to do with actual applied technology I have no idea.  There’s talk in her artist statement about connecting the movement of real people to the movement of the veals. But I never got that from the presentation, and the rest of the website is so heavy in the art speak, I’m sure she’ll do great in Berlin.

Other things to note:

Aesthetics: A majority of the show  borrowed heavily from steampunk.   Lots of gears, old frames, grossly over designed enclosures.  Form is winning over function.

Crowdsourcing: Many of the projects were about people interacting with the student’s newly designed platform, and giving information to the platform, as opposed to users getting information.   This shift in thinking – that the network is where you give things, not where you get things is arguably not a new concept, however this show seems to have turned a corner in almost every project category, you were giving, not getting information or experience. There was even a physical computing project, where you interact with it, and it saves the interaction outputs to display at a later time to someone else.  (Gratitude:

Websites: I think I saw one traditional website, maybe there were 5 or six. (the show is massive, no way to take it all in) The one I saw was a crowdsource effort to encourage people to take pictures of their local flora/fauna/etc and catalogue it. (noah- It mostly seemed to have pictures of people’s pets.  They do have missions – – including documenting pigeons and ladybugs.  Again, heavily dependent upon the crowd to take the picture, follow up, filling out information, with very little known sources backup. Just because it’s crowd sourced, doesn’t make it true.   One cool web driven project was . Bike Peddler, via an alternate interface helps you find a bike on Craigslist that’s close to you.

“Telecommunications”: though ITP stands for the interactive TELECOMMUNICATIONS program, there was very little that actually had to do with using a phone.  There were two projects that focused on mobile solutions for solar/energy – one for aiding entrepreneurs with their energy startup, and the other for rural area maintenance of solar power.  The technology being used wasn’t a particularly innovative approach.

Cost: There’s a lot of money at ITP, and wandering around all the lasercut / cnc milled piece parts, tri-color leds, slick business cards and marketing plans I had to wonder where was the re-use, re-design, recession?


Written by marahrosenberg

21 December 2009 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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