Yesterday was tough. As matter of fact, past week has been tough. Trip to Boston over the weekend took quiet a bit of energy. Workshop at DxB was nothing short of disappointment, the organizer was unorganized and failed to make any real attempt to make the experience worthy of our time. We had very little attendance and the workshop felt like waste of time. However, meeting Theo in his studio, hanging with Tega and him over few too many beer in Cambridge, as well as meeting Tiffany in Media Lab made the trip worth it. On the train back, I daydreamed of someday SFPC becoming established like the Media Lab.
I taught at ITP on Monday, a day after coming back to New York. The class “To Remember and Forget #4” went okay, considering crazy travel leading up to it. Also, Tega came and lead a short session on smell, and we went to have a picnic in Washington square park. It’s really hard to go wrong with class picnic. Here are some notes for the class.
Tuesday, Zach, Casey and I were working all day to get ready for Wednesday, beginning of the Fall term of SFPC. On the evening, somewhat through last minute arrangement, I went out with Bingbingbing (winter sports social club) members to say good bye to Yejin who’s returning to Korea. Wednesday was the first day of SFPC, lots of excitement and a tiny bit of anxiety. Overall, we are relaxed and prepared compared to last year. In the fall 2013, we were frentically running around the city, cleaning the space and teaching all at the same time.
Communal dinner was nice, also to hang with Amit, Zach and Tega in same place was nice. Thursday I moved some of Yejin’s furniture to SFPC. We now have wooden desk and rice cooker! as well as miscellaneous kitchenware.
Friday was a giant welcome party for news students at SFPC. About hundred or hundred fifty people showed up. It was incredible exciting. New students are really impressive. I think we did a fine job of curating the group. Saturday was intensely raining in the morning. I was reading and getting ready for teaching. I was feeling not well for the past week and went to get physical therapy. Sunday I’m not sure what I was doing, probably getting ready for the class.
Monday, yesterday, I went to SFPC in the morning, helped Tega with setup for check in. I was still not completely ready for teaching a class that day. The class at NYU was okay, I think I could have been better prepared. Some students are having difficulty making blog postings about readings. Maybe the readings are too eclectic, or maybe they need a better guidelines for reading and writing. There was a salon meeting at LMCC, I was completely exhausted after another two hours of presentations by other participating artists of residency. I was home last night, hopelessly tired and tired from being hopeless. Maybe I should have not had a glass of whiskey the night before. As I become more busy and stressed out, I tend to drink more often than I shoud. It leads to tiredness the day after, but it’s always hard to resist temptation of immediate satisfaction of having a drink before sleep. Drinks make my body to believe it’s relaxing, but I know it’s just an illusion.
Today was another story. I checked in with SFPC students at 10am. Few students weren’t aware of the checkin today and were missing. We should have a clear line of communication with students. I went over various public programming and outreach we are trying to do this fall. Notes from the check in are here.
After some I-S-O-P-T related emails to LACMA and talking with E Roon, I helped with the epic dumpling lunch. It was a great time, thanks to Karen, Nikki and Edlyn. It’s just really nice to be at Orbital with these folks.
Our new teacher Allison Burtch stopped by and said hi to students. She was recently in Rome and kept on making fun of Asian/non-Asian tourists using selfie sticks on twitter. I should order some selfie-sticks and do choreographed performance with her.
In the afternoon, Sara and Jonas lead a workshop session on git and github. It’s a great start of self organizing and initiatives. Overhearing their workshop, I couldn’t help thinking of Le and Paul from last fall, who lead github workshop as well.
Throughout the day, I was busy communicating with other teachers and visitors about something. Notably, I booked a mixer with New.Inc to happen on November 4th. Also spent time catching up with few visiting artists and teachers. Much of the work can be found on my email outbox. It’s pretty frightening to realize how many emails I write per day. When a curator asked what’s my primary medium, I said “I write e-mails.”
I’ve been thinking of better way of explaining inner workings of SFPC. In the very beginning, last fall, we tried to make decisions with everyone’s (co-founders) consensus, but decision makings have become more centralized naturally. Completely horizontal structure is hard to practice in sustained manner. Zach and I spearheaded admissions process as well as inviting new teachers. Amit, Zach and I decided research themes and those two have been strong academic backbone of the school. Casey and I’ve been doing finance. I’m also working on public relations with other institutions, visiting artists and etc. Tega is becoming increasingly involved with administration of the school. New teachers, Ida, Allison and Ramsey are contributing lots of energy to shape character of the school. It’s truly honor to work with such an inspirational group.
Through past two sessions, my work at the school focused on somewhere between administrator/curator/ teacher. I’ve been talking with other co-founders about finding a proper title for my job, for better communication with partner organizations and also to shape my contribution into a job description that another teacher may take on for future sessions. I don’t want to get a title that imitates traditional academics and hope there’s a humorous title that also makes sense.
A memorable moment from today. New student Rachel asked about ways of engaging theory, philosophy or politics, with creative practice of making, designing, and building- with code or what not. I had to think about it for a second, also to understand the context of her question. She’s coming from social science background, so she has experience in reading and thinking critically. It sounds like she wants to deepen her creative practice, towards somewhere it’s not just personal or aesthetic. She asked how to bridge theory/ concept with actual making of the project. I told her it’s not always ideal if art work becomes a demonstration of theory. And likewise, for theory to become proof for the art work. It’s probably best if critical thinking continues in parallel to art making. At some point there are moments of overlap, creative feedback and feed forward happens spontaneously. I thought about how I focus on making: technical stuff or drawings for a while, and stop for some time and read and think for some time. At some fortunate moments, thinking and making become one thing. We also talked about some artists she likes, such as Dunne and Raby, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and etc. I should try to invite those folks to speak at SFPC.
Around 5:45pm, I went over some kitchen maintenance stuff with Edlyn. Around 6:30pm I had a shot of burbon, which came with the furniture I brought in, and talked with Lauren and Andrew as well as Jonas for a bit. As I headed home around 7pm, cloud of thoughts followed me back to the Essex street and into the J train. It seems like everything is going well with SFPC. It has been exactly a week since everyone walked into the space for the first time. The curation of new teachers and research themes, selection of the participants, seems to be working well.
The task we have as teachers, administrators, and facilitators of ideas and knowledge now is to balance stimulation (lectures, tools, new people and etc) with much needed downtime, alone time: the space and time for students to carve out for themselves. Sometimes, only in complete sense of solitude, one may discover space to work with another person.