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Eye See The Future

Friday, December 16th, 2011

This week, my Archivist Fellowship at the ICI comes to a final close. It has been an eventful journey, filled with friendships, inspiration and excitement, with so much to be thankful for.

I first started at ICI during the thrill of the 100/10 project, when it swept steadily through its many iterations until finally halting at ∆10, some five months into my internship. When I was asked to coordinate this final iteration with another ICI fellow, I was thrilled. 100/10∆10: Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project embodied the value of process in art projects, teaching me to let go of expectations, to move with the ebbs and flows of a project’s lifespan, and to trust the mind and its creative instincts.

Since the conclusion of ∆10 in August, my fellowship has involved me in new ICI endeavors. Our latest project, Forget Foucault, aimed at shedding new light on AIDS awareness and remembrance in the 21st century.  Done on December 1st – World AIDS Day, this event was indeed a collaboration between ICI’s curatorial fellows Sue-Na Gay and Kaylie Wilson, ICI Director Lise Patt, Social Media consultant Kelly Barrett, Library intern Eliana Ruiz, and myself, along with a number of other ICI associates and collaborators. My biggest task for this project was digitizing ICI’s AIDS Archive and preparing these materials so they would be available to view electronically the day of the event. It was a great feat getting all this material prepared, and I felt a huge sense of satisfaction knowing a large portion of ICI’s collection had finally been digitized.

But now, we wind down. The end of the year is near, another round of internships and fellowships is drawing to a close, and ICI progresses forward. Where will it take me next?

‘The future’s not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.’ – John Connor, Terminator 2: Judgement Day





ICI Field Trip

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Last week, my fellow Fellows (Elaina and Elisa) and I, along with the ICI director Lise Patt, took a field trip to Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station Arts Center.  None of us outside of Lise had ever been to this fine establishment, so we were all quite excited.  The field trip had two main goals: to visit a store full of hand-made paper and book-binding supplies called Hiromi Paper and to pass out fliers for the ICI 100/10∆10 project coordinated by Elisa and me,  Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project.  Of course, since all of us happen to also be great art enthusiasts, the overarching mission of this field trip was to simply enjoy ourselves within one of the greatest arts establishments in Southern California.

We began our afternoon at Bergamot in the paper store.  Elaina was searching for the perfect hand-made cotton fiber paper to compliment her final essay for ICI’s 100/10 catalog box-set.  Needless to say she found it, along with a slough of other breath-taking hand-made papers.  Being in that store was incredibly inspiring, as they had paper in all sizes, as small as my pinky nail to large scale paper the size of my bedroom wall.  They also had paper in every variety, as delicate as lace or as sturdy as wood (yes, actual paper with wood grain running through it).  Being in this store gave me so many creative ideas, it was hard holding back my wallet and my imagination.



After the paper store, the Fellows and I wandered through a few Bergamot galleries with the hope of checking out some artwork and leaving our Earth Project fliers.  We went into every gallery open that afternoon, including Tag Gallery, Luis de Jesus Gallery, Lois Lambert Gallery, FIG Gallery, and the Robert Berman Gallery.

After a delightful lunch at the Bergamot Cafe, the Fellows and I wandered over to the Santa Monica Museum of Art to see its most current exhibition, Marco Brambilla: The Dark Lining.  This is a video artist whose pieces are truly an experience, my favorite being two 3-D video collages that “combine hundreds of clips from genre films that re-enact historical moments as grand spectacle.”  I was mesmerized by these two pieces (not to mention Brambilla’s other video installations), and would highly recommend viewing this show before it leaves SMMoA August 20.

Bergamot Station is definitely worth visiting if in the Los Angeles region.  The history dates back to 1875 when it was a trolley stop for the Red Line, making it a truly unique space within the land of strip malls.  I plan on taking a trip back there soon, maybe even checking out Brambilla’s 3-D video installation one last time before it’s over.


The Earth Project, Technology and My Brain

Thursday, July 14th, 2011



“If only I could take what’s in my brain and transfer it onto WordPress…”

In the last week and a half, I entertained this thought countless times as I sat in the ICI’s main library space, struggling through the technological aspect of the Earth Project. If you were here from the beginning, you might have seen the changes on this website as they were in progress – as we shifted from one theme to the next, adding and removing widgets, changing the text, cropping images.

When we launched the project on June 28th, we directed our terra publica to a very simple website which had our interactive map on the front page. With a white background, minimal images and text from our press release, the website did what it needed to do at the time: have an active, working map and pages directing the user to more information, should he or she seek it.

It sat there on the World Wide Web for about a week before we decided it needed to change.

Thus began the creative chaos – hours of looking at themes, frustration in my failure to manipulate the layout, discussions with Jojo on what we should change, add, or remove. At the very end of the day, we finally decided on a visually stimulating theme centered around the contributions from terra publica – emphasizing our curators’ role on this project.


Brainstorm for the Earth Project

Over the weekend, we worked hours to implement the changes: configuring the thumbnails, experimenting with plug-ins, even ‘hacking’ the theme to fit our needs. There were so many moments when I squinted my eyes in the midst of the WordPress code, thinking that this whole website business was an evil, a hindrance – even though it was such a crucial part of this participatory Internet project. None of us here at the Institute are programmers or professional web designers – so this little feat over technology, to me at least, really shows that with research, creativity and lots of WordPress plugins, we can make the system work for us.

Although I must admit – I still think it’s bizarre how our visions are now transformed over the computer screen via thousands of lines of code – a mixture of odd symbols, letters and numbers which intuitively doesn’t seem visual at all.

This blog entry was originally posted as a part of the 100/10∆10: Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project. Coordinated by Jojo Black and Elisa Baek, this final iteration of the 100/10 curatorial project was open for participation on the Internet from June 28 – August 15, 2011.


You Are the Curators of the Earth Project

Thursday, July 14th, 2011


You have all the information before you.  A small pile of dirt that can be held in the hand, a pebble that can be hidden in a pocket, a picture of an old home weathered by time pinned above your computer – it takes only a small sample of earth to recall wars that have been fought, homelands that have been lost, astral bodies that have been waylaid and legendary lands that have fueled our imaginations. Earth has… or is…


Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project is a place for sharing these experiences.  It is a database across time and space for you to contribute to and draw upon, to exchange with others, to use in creating your own world map, across a virtual network linking us all together.

As a curator of this project, you make the moves.  You choose your samples, the locations, you arrange the material, and you create the connections.  The possibilities are endless. Take what you like.  Take what inspires you and run with it.  Put it in your pocket.  Draw it in your sketchbook.  Write it on your arm.  It is yours to keep, to take along the journey, to use along your way.

What will you create?  You have until August 15 to find out.

This blog entry was originally posted as a part of the 100/10∆10: Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project. Coordinated by Jojo Black and Elisa Baek, this final iteration of the 100/10 curatorial project was open for participation on the Internet from June 28 – August 15, 2011.


Mappa Mundi in the 21st Century

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project

Mappa Mundi: (n) medieval European maps of the world.
[1350–1400; Medieval Latin. mappa (cloth) mundi (of the world)]

Composed of elaborate designs inscribed on thin sheets of cloth, the typical mappa mundi bears only the slightest resemblance to a contemporary geographic world map found today.  Clearly reflective of Christianity’s dominance in medieval Europe, most mappa mundis are heavy in religious imagery, with drawings of Jerusalem as the center of the world and Christ’s victorious return on Judgement Day.  However, mappa mundis are more than mere indications of the Church’s power at the time.  Featuring drawings of exotic plants, mythical beasts of Roman and Greek origins and imagined places of the unknown, these objects together not only form an encyclopedia of the medieval world but also attest to the curiosity that these societies had of their own history and the world beyond it.

A closer look at the magnificent drawings makes clear that these mapmakers were themselves artists – artists who, influenced by their knowledge of Roman and Greek mythology and encouraged by their instinct for creativity, imagined inhabitants of unknown territories such as the Phanesii (who had large ears to protect themselves from the cold) and the Sciapods (who had large feet to protect themselves from the sun).

People have long been fascinated with mappa mundis.  Some have scoffed at them for their inaccuracy and somewhat ridiculous portrayals of lands whose geographical boundaries are no longer mysteries.  I think, however, that these medieval European maps are more relevant than ever today, where this strange phenomena called the ‘Internet’ is continuously changing the way we interpret – and share – visual images of our history, our present and our future.  We are all active curators – reinterpreting the way connections are made throughout the world by our act of picking up pieces and bits from one part of the Web and putting them together in another.

Welcome to Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project in the 21st Century.  Interpret it as you wish.

This blog entry was originally posted as a part of the 100/10∆10: Mappa Mundi: The Earth Project. Coordinated by Jojo Black and Elisa Baek, this final iteration of the 100/10 curatorial project was open for participation on the Internet from June 28 – August 15, 2011.