Tag Archives: Caltech

Art Center’s David Doody moonlights running mission control for NASA’S Cassini Saturn exploration


Cassini's ringed target: Saturn.

Cassini’s ringed target: Saturn.

“Right across the Arroyo, we’re making plans for a real close encounter,” says Dave Doody, whose Art Center At Night seminar, “Basics of Interplanetary Flight,” is currently recruiting participants for a class that’s literally out of this world. “My team has been piloting the gangly robot Cassini in wide orbits around Saturn since 2010. But in coming years we’re going to drop in for some up-close-and-personal visits. We’ll plunge the spacecraft between the rings and the planet 22 times before letting go of the spent machine so it can burn up in the gas giant’s atmosphere like a meteor.”

This 2016-2017 segment of Cassini’s 20 year mission has been temporarily dubbed the “Proximal Orbits” by mission planners at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where Doody works as a senior engineer, currently leading the Saturn-bound spacecraft’s flight operations controllers. But after acknowledging that some creative person somewhere could almost certainly conjure a more mission-worthy name, NASA launched the Cassini Name Game, hoping for some better ideas.

“One thing about these orbits will be their huge roller coaster speed,” says Doody. “The camera-laden craft will reach more than 120,000 kilometers an hour as it screams past the innermost ring particles just above the hazy atmosphere. Next, it’ll slow down for three and a quarter days, coasting ‘up’ to the top of its 1.2 million kilometer-high peak, before starting to drop back in again for its next pass. Wild.”

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Creativity 101: Harnessing the power of students’ imaginations

Photographs by Chris Hatcher, PHOT '05

Photographs by Chris Hatcher, PHOT ’05

In 30 minutes, visualize your creative process and recreate it using an 8-and-a-half-by-11 sheet of paper.

This is the first assignment in Creative Strategies, a popular undergraduate Product Design course taught by instructor Fridolin “Frido” Beisert PROD 98, INDU 08, faculty director of Art Center’s Product Design Department.

All 14 students accept the challenge. Walking to the front of the classroom, they each select a single sheet of colored construction paper and take a seat along the row of bare metal tables. As a digital timer, projected onto the wall, starts ticking, the students immediately start cutting, tearing, folding and drawing.

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Art Center in the News, May/June 2013

Environmental Design student Jonathan Wook Kim with his new design “Remix” as seen in the Los Angeles Times coverage of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and New York Design Week.

From the launch of Art Center’s The Design Accelerator to showcasing new chair designs at the top industry confab in New York, from Grand Theft Auto to anti-gun violence campaigns — here’s where you can catch up on any news you may have missed with our latest media roundup.

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Want to Build the Next Pinterest? Focus on Great Design,” June 26, 2013: Art Center partners with Caltech and teams up with Idealab to develop design-driven startups.

Huffington Post, “Entrepreneurship Driven by Design,” May 29, 2013

Bunch Magazine, June 2013: Interview with Grad Art shop instructor and alumnus Zack Stadel (GART 04).

Brand Republic, June 20, 2013: Student Gevorg Karensky’s short, Grand Theft Auto: RISE, selected for Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Director’s Showcase.

GOOD Magazine, “Reducing Gun Violence, One Middle School Class at a Time,”June 19, 2013

KCRW DnA: Design and Architecture, June 18, 2013: Designmatters’ Mariana Amatullo and Elisa Ruffino are featured in the first segment of the program about the Uncool Anti-Gun Violence initiative.

KCET Artbound, June 11, 2013: Art Center, JPL and Caltech present symposium on the emerging field of data visualization.

Los Angeles Times, “ICFF 2013 and New York Design Week: Top trends in home décor,” May 24, 2013: Environmental Design students Jonathan Wook Kim and Zara Vardayan are featured in this story about furniture companies which premiered their newest designs at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and New York Design Week. Chairs designed by both students through the Art Center Bernhardt Design partnership are shown in a roundup of designs and trends spotted during the show.

For the latest Art Center news, follow us on Twitter at @art_center.

Form follows fungus at the Williamson Gallery’s Intimate Science exhibit

Philip Ross’s "Mycotecture" series, part of the Williamson Gallery's "Intimate Science" exhibition.

Philip Ross’s “Mycotecture” series, part of the Williamson Gallery’s “Intimate Science” exhibition.

Bricks. You know, those hard rectangular cubes made of heavy solid stuff like cement, stone, concrete, rock . . . and fungus. Yes, fungus. Clean, lightweight, extremely durable, sustainable, (dead) fungus. There’s a sculpture made of those fungal bricks shaped into a half-arc tunnel – not to mention two fungus-grown chairs –  on display in the Williamson Gallery’s current exhibitionIntimate Science (through August 18).

Known for its curatorial connections to the burgeoning ArtScience movement, the Williamson Gallery’s recent projects have extended this theme to include artists who are productively reckless when considering the boundaries between traditional domains. Stitching together performance, installation art, design, citizen science, and maker-ingenuity into a complex fabric of artistic practice, ArtScience artists are challenging older single-channel paradigms.

Originally organized by curator Andrea Grover for Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery and now on a national tour, Intimate Science includes a compelling assemblage of crossover objects and intentions. The exhibition’s stop at the hillside campus has brought works by artists from London, Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo to join hometown L.A. participant Machine Project in provoking students, faculty, staff and a stream of inquisitive visitors.

Two recent workshops organized by Machine Project transformed a section of the gallery into an interactive learning lab for unconventional artistic palettes. Attendees examined processes that might inform future hybrid projects by harnessing the behavior of sound vibrations and twisting auditory perceptions, and interfacing with the dynamics of electricity and the natural flow of current in the human body.

At the exhibition’s opening reception on May 30, scientists from Caltech and Jet Propulsion Lab mixed with artists, designers, writers, students, faculty, and the generally curious. Carnegie Mellon’s Astria Suparak remarked on bringing the exhibition to Art Center’s gallery: “We were thrilled to open Intimate Science at the Williamson Gallery — to have the opportunity to bring the gallery’s work to Los Angeles, to be seen by a wider audience and have a larger impact.”


Say Goodbye to the Old Paradigm. Here Comes the Next Generation of Design-Driven Startups


Art Center  and Caltech today announced the launch of The Design Accelerator, an incubator aimed at helping startups grow by merging great design, cutting-edge technology and business strategy to create innovation. The Accelerator initially will be housed within Idealab, which is well known for creating and operating pioneering companies in its own right.

“In today’s economy, artists and designers play a vital role as creative leaders and catalysts for innovation and change,” said Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “Integrating technology, design and business, The Design Accelerator creates an opportunity for Art Center and Caltech alumni to expand on what they learned as students and provides a stimulating space for their concepts to become viable businesses.”

The Accelerator is an integral part of Art Center’s 2011–2016 Strategic Plan. Understanding students’ concerns about employment prospects following graduation, The Accelerator fills a critical gap by giving students and alumni the opportunity to develop their concepts into sustainable and commercial ventures—a bridge between academic and professional life.

Fred Farina, Caltech’s chief innovation officer, adds, “We know that making connections across different areas fuels innovation, and that’s why we’re excited about this collaboration. The combination of our complementary but very different perspectives in a startup team promises powerful results.”

The Design Accelerator benefits from its prime location in Pasadena, Calif., which has become a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with vibrant creative, technology and business communities, enriched by the presence of Art Center, Caltech, angel investors and venture capitalists.

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From Data to Discovery Videos Now Online

Stamen's 3D browsable map of New York (in mesh form), which pulls data from Nokia's Here.

Stamen’s 3D browsable map of New York (in mesh form), which pulls data from Nokia’s Here.

Weren’t able to make it to last month’s From Data to Discovery, the one-day symposium in Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium on the emerging science of big data visualization?

Well, it’s time to turn that smile upside down, because videos of every presentation that took place that day are now available for viewing on a playlist on Caltech’s YouTube channel.

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Art Center, Caltech and NASA JPL Team Up to Explore Data Visualization

A still from artist Jer Thorp's "Just Landed" (2009), a work that visualizes tweets from air travellers.

A still from artist Jer Thorp’s “Just Landed” (2009), a work that visualizes tweets from air travellers.

On Thursday, May 23, Art Center, Caltech and NASA JPL hosted From Data to Discovery, a one-day symposium on the emerging science of big data visualization that attracted leaders of the field from across the nation.

Speakers included Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, co-leaders of Google’s “Big Picture” visualization research group in Cambridge, Mass., Jer Thorp, an artist and cofounder of the New York-based multidisciplinary research group The Office for Creative Research, and Golan Levin, an artist and director of The Frank Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University.

Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium was packed with approximately 500 members of the art, design and scientific communities eager to engage in a discussion on how data visualization has transformed from a mere means of representation into a tool for discovery.

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Art Center, Caltech and NASA JPL to Host Industry Leaders for One-Day Data Visualization Symposium

Detail of student Jerod Rivera's "Reductive Resonance."

The data is out there. The challenge? Making sense of it all.

This Thursday, Art Center, Caltech and NASA JPL are joining forces to host leaders in the fields of data science and visualization from across the nation for From Data to Discovery, a one-day symposium on the emerging science of big data visualization.

The event will be held at Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. and is open to members of the Art Center, Caltech and NASA JPL communities. The event is free but seating is limited, so reservations are required.

Participating guests include:

  • Fernanda Viégas & Martin Wattenberg, co-leaders of Google’s “Big Picture” visualization research group in Cambridge, Mass., who describe their work as exploring “the joy of revelation;”
  • Jer Thorp, co-founder of The Office for Creative Research, a New York-based multidisciplinary research group, and an artist whose practice uncovers the “many-folded boundaries between science and art;” Continue reading

ARTnews Recognizes Williamson Gallery as Shaping Art/Science Movement

In the March 2013 issue of ARTnews Magazine, arts writer Suzanne Muchnic features the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery on the Art Center Hillside Campus and its nearly two decade-long series of exhibitions. The cover story, “Under the Microscope,” also features other leading contributors to the burgeoning art/science movement, noting that “in museums, schools, and research facilities, scientists and artists are swapping methods.”

OBSERVE at the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery

Lita Albuquerque's installation "Stellar Suspension" was included in OBSERVE, an Art Center/Caltech-JPL collaboration at the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery in 2008.

“Strict old-style boundaries like the ones assumed to exist between art and science are eroding,” said Stephen Nowlin, an Art Center alumnus and founding director of the Williamson Gallery, which opened in 1992. “Traditional dichotomies such as intellect versus emotion, reason versus intuition, and the poetic versus the practical, are becoming less distinct under the influence of unprecedented communication networks and analytical tools that reveal in higher resolution and greater clarity the complex layers of things and ideas.”

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Driverless car gets green light in California

Google's self-driving car and the technology to power it.

Commuters could soon be sharing the road with self-driving cars: Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that would allow the vehicles to be tested and operated on California roads.

“We are looking at science fiction becoming reality in a self-driving car,” Brown said during a ceremony at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Caltech, Google and other companies have been developing the cars, which use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate freeways sans human input. (The legislation, S. 1298, requires a licensed driver to be at the wheel in case something goes wrong.)