Museo aero solar

Years ago, after Chaos Congress, Rubin insisted we go to some art show. I, as always, preferred to stay at home — whatever continent, country, city home might be in that day. But Rubin can be lovingly persistent. It would be worth it. It would be beautiful. We went, mere hours before I boarded a plane from somewhere to somewhere else.
blue-haired willow has her back to the camera, focused on a large transparent orb. Children play in the orb, suspended on a clear sheet of plastic. black lacing holds the orb in place. Rubin took this picture, and Willow is fond of Rubin.
Biosphere was a study in liminality to me, suspended spaces tethered to more commonly understood as habitable floors and walls. Perfectly clear water in heavy plastic and vast space define in clarity and iridescence. It was a liminal future, an in-between home, the moment the wheels leave the runway. The terror of my anxiety and the complete love for the possibility of Something Different, wrapped up in the moments of stepping into the future. In short, Rubin was right.

Jump forward a few years.
When Pablo invited me to Development and Climate Days in Lima, I was glad to go. Even before the deeply pleasurable and productive Nairobi gig with Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Kenya Red Cross, I trusted Pablo to have spot-on inklings of the future. Maybe all that climate forecasting has gotten into his social forecasting as well. His efforts around serious games resulting in their now being generally accepted, he told about an art-involved step to get people to think about the future differently. Something about plastic bags, and lighter than air balloons. Would I be willing to, in addition to my talk, document their process of creating a Museo Aero Solar for others to participate and replicate? Of course – distribution of knowledge, especially with illustration and technology is kind of my jam. It would also help me venture into the city.

I arrived at 2a to a deserted city and a vast and rolling Pacific out the cab window. I cracked jokes with the driver based on my poor grasp of Spanish (“ehhhh, Pacifico es no muy grande.”) He humored me. And in the morning, mango that tasted like sunlight, and instant coffee, and the Climate Centre team of whom I am becoming increasingly fond. And a new person – the artist Tomas, with whom Pablo and I ventured to an art space to join the already-started process of community building and art creation, large bags full of plastic shopping bags ready for cutting and taping. Pablo eventually had to go spend time at COP20, I relished not going.
a phone-camera captured image of a pamphlet instructing how to create a museo aero solar. it instructs the collecting, cutting, taping, and combining of plastic bags.
I took such specific, ritualistic care with each plastic bag. Cut off the bottom, cut off the handles, cut a side to make a long rectangle. Lay it gently on top of the pile, pressing down to smooth and order. Pick up the next bag. Feel it on my hands. The crinkle, the color. Smooth it out. Cut. Place. The sound of tape being pulled, torn, applied, and stories told in Spanish. The slow joining of each hand-cut rectangle. I smiled, to dedicate so much care to so many iterations of things which are the detritus of life. Francis laughed with me, saying she felt the weight of each one. A heavy statement for something so light. Tomas walking around, constantly seeming to have attracted a bit of plastic bag handle to his heel, no matter how many he peeled off, a persistent duckling of artist statement.

We went to the Lima FabLab to speak to a hackathon about making a GPS and transponder so we could let the creation fly free without endangering air traffic. And this time I saw it from the outside – seeing Tomas speak to a group of self- and community-taught Peruvian coders, and seeing their faces display disbelief and verge protection against the temporal drain of those outside your reality. Then, as he showed step by step, and finally an image, that these can fly, their cousins can lift a person, grins break out. Peoples’ hearts lift, new disbelief replaces the jaded. There is laughter and a movement to logistical details.

And then we took it to the D&C venue, and it worked.

I imagine what Pablo must have gone through, to get bureaucratic sign-off on this. No metric of success. No Theory of Change. Him, fighting tooth and nail for a large and hugely risk-adverse organization to trust fall into the arms of a community, an artist, a facilitator, and a game maker. And they did. And it changed the entire event. People in suits crawling into this cathedral made of plastic bags, each individually cut and added with love to the whole. A pile of fancy shoes outside the entrance, like a ballroom bouncy castle. People’s unabashed joy watching art some of them had made become a room, and then lift off to become a transport.

This future we want — it’s hard work, it can seem impossible. But it’s right here, we made it. It works, and it is beautiful.

I brought up ways for other people to participate. In a beautiful act I would associate with Libre ethics, the Lima crew have opened up not only our stories, but our process. We want you to join us. We want you to be a part of this future, and it means hard work. The fledgling wiki and mailing list can be found here. I hope you hop on.

When is your Future?

What 5 things will indicate to you that it’s officially The Future? These things can already exist.

For me:
1. Solar power that actually operates at 50%+ efficiency
2. widely available HUDs
3. instant communication
4. efficient voice recognition/transcription
5. touch screens

Ok, so it was going to be 10, but I got distracted by ThinkGeek. Yay for a Future full of short attention spans. I blame the sick what has infested my body. Go away, sick. *pokes with stick*

I’ll probably actually put some thought into this and come up with a good list when my brain is functional again. Just thought I’d get the ball rolling.

wine snobs, cloned meat, and The Future

So there’s this whole cloned meat debate thing going on right now, or starting to happen.

And since I’ve been hanging out with wine geeks (and am becoming one myself), an interesting conversation relating to this has come up a few times.
The culture of wine has to do with being able to smell, taste, see where something has come from. Because it’s still just grapes. But you get all these different things out of it, which point you to what sort of life the grape vine had that year and the years before, that are complex enough that someone who’s good at it can name the varietal, vintage, and vineyard that a wine came from.
And while there’s not this sort of established culture around being able to tell what breed and area your steak is of, a recent article in Gourmet Magazine tied it in with wine in my mind.

See, there’s this thing called AOC. And part of why it was initially put into place was to keep emerging vineyards from taking business from established ones. (This is on my fairly limited research into a very complicated subject) Certain guidelines had to be met to obtain different levels of certification, giving legitimacy. Now these guidelines were initially pretty meaningless (as they were just meant to limit who could be labled as Fancy-Pants for getting all their grapes from one area of a specific region and going through the rest of the process in the same spot instead of pulling from grapes all over the place, mixing barrels, etc), but as wine making became more regulated and localized, the differences between regions became more noticeable, as well as more predictable. They’ve done the same thing with cheese, and now flour (the flour bit was what the article was on). Similar things are being suggested for beef if it’s to be of the non-cloned variety.
The guidelines don’t just mandate what type of grapes you use in what percentage in order to label your wine as a certain varietal, but also where they come from, how they are taken care of, harvested, etc. Cheese cultures can only come from the region that the cows/goats/sheep you’re milking for the cheese, etc. The flour has to be from grains in your region, ground in your region, etc. And the producers in these regions that adhere to the standards are government-subsidized.

The government is making it possible, even encouraging, these places to maintain a way of life which is basically a snapshot of when they were certified. We are building our Reservations (an idea described in Transmet).