Last month, design lovers were treated to NYU Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) Winter Show where students presented their fall semester’s work. As the program’s mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies to “improve and bring delight and art in peoples lives”, we were excited to check out what sort of pieces they had designed, and whether they might contribute to a more ecologically-conscious world. We were delighted to find that many artists chose to work with reclaimed materials, including salvaged jeans and a vintage arcade machine, while others created pieces that used minimal materials to call attention to the construction of a more sustainable society. Skip to the jump to see some of our favorites.
The Bashtray Project, a series of ashtrays that displayed presidential candidates’ faces, was a fun project that engaged people during the 2012 presidential election by giving users the opportunity to vote with their cigarettes, while at the same time disposing of them properly. Acknowledging that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts worldwide are littered each year, the Bashtray was developed as an initiative that to keep NYC streets clean, while encouraging people to engage in political voting processes. See a video of the Bashtray in action here.
The creators of The Buddhist, Bona Kim and James Borda, salvaged the old arcade machine from a garage outside of New York City and rewired and designed the system to reflect the philosophy of Buddhism. The team designed the interactive artpiece to draw participants away from the hero/heroin narrative usually displayed in such 80s style arcade games, and let gamers reflect on the present moment instead. Although presented as a traditional game, the Buddhist journey behind the machine’s screen could not be controlled by participants, no matter which buttons were pressed.
Artist Owen Roberts translated a page of the written biography of Levi Strauss into a pair of salvaged denim pants, using original iconographic imagery. Resembling something like Egyptian hieroglyphics, the very small symbols inscribed onto the swatches of denim were created using laser cutting technology. Applying new technologies to discarded materials found in the bins of the school working labs is part of Roberts’ artistic process.
Tom Arthur’s device, Change you Can Believe In, collects the loose change you collect everyday and quantifies the coins in the ways that you can help others. Trinkets that represent different services or items to be bought are located next to a scale and the container of coins. If you place a trinket onto the scale, the device will tell you what services you can provide with that amount of change.
The American Rubs project, created by Hanna Kang-Brown, is a series of data-specific spice rubs based on ethnic data of neighborhoods from the latest US Census report. At the ITP winter show Kang-Brown mixed the scrubs with olive oil and served each with bread. The scrubs were created by the interpretation of NYC borough ethnicity data into spice recipes, whereby each spice was associated with a different ethnic/racial group (garlic= Italian, cane sugar = Dominican , Chinese= ginger, etc.). We might be biased, but we thought Brooklyn was the tastiest.
We’re excited to see what cool pieces the artists will cook up next semester!