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August 26, 2010

Fiftieth Birthday / Anniversary of Juan Valdez

Today is Juan Valdez's fiftieth birthday. His anniversary is being celebrated by the President of the Republic of Colombia, and by the Colombian Federation of Coffee Growers. El Espectador, one of Colombia's leading newspapers, has assembled the montage presented above, and is streaming the ceremonies live from the home page of its website. I've attempted to link to the livestream below.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 10:43 AM

August 25, 2010

futbol for majority world by minority world

Soccer season is about to begin for my U14 boys team. We play in the recreational division, and I have been working with the same group of boys since they formed as a U06 (six years old and under) team. Nike has been distributing high production value training tips on YouTube and now on its iPad App. It will be hard to resist sharing them with my team. Many of the members are trying to participate in two fall sports simultaneously, both american and world football.

As I have been gathering other resources to prepare for this season, I've found pointers to projects that are trying to share access to futbol — and to the ball in particular — with those who may not have the means. I neglect to point to the photography project that documents home-made balls in Africa, and the project that documents exuberantly created pitches with arial photos. These can be found with very little effort.

I'll leave a comparison also to the debate on Design Observer about "design imperialism":

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 08:28 AM

August 13, 2010

Gestalt Theory. Design. Computer Science. Games.

Gestalt Psychology, Theory

these have been very important for visual and experiential perception for a century. They rely on a foundation of contrast or distinction between "figure" and "ground", presence and absence, sound and silence. I have taken this contrast to be meaningful or "meaning bearing" and so relate it to principals of semiotics. When these are taught from an arts heritage, they are often exercises with minimal forms, "primitives" – e.g. square, triangle, circle, only black, only white. The principles and properties are interpreted as tension, proportion, balance, depth (scalar), depth (overlapping or occlusion), depth (color in hue, lightness and saturation model), transparency (interpenetration of 2D forms), depth (variety of linear perspective strategies), movement, rhythm, pattern and texture (these last three through repitition of form). Historically these principles have been presented to eighteen year-old art students at the outset of their studies. I mentioned to Josh Fishburn that they are typically too abstractly presented for that learning cohort. It seems to take a great deal of preparation and reaffirmation to come to fully understand the Gestalt Analysis. Maybe that is why they have been presented at the beginning and reinforced throughout the processes. The educational method I outline in scheme above was taken from Gyorgy Kepes' Language of Vision. Kepes book is highly influential, and was itself informed by his work with Lazlo Moholy Nagy, who taught at the Bauhaus, and later at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Kepes taught at MIT after WWII. Kepes intersected with Nicholas Negroponte, Muriel Cooper, Seymour Papert, Marvin Minsky, and a host of others during his distinguished career at MIT.

Erica Liszewski has noted that Computer Science also has adopted some elements of Gestalt Theory. It would be interesting to see if this traces back to Kepes. Thanks go to Erica for the following summary taken from wikipedia (caveat emptor):

Emergence is the process of complex pattern formation from simpler rules.
Reification is the constructive or generative aspect of perception, by which the experienced percept contains more explicit spatial information than the sensory stimulus on which it is based.
Multistability (or multistable perception) is the tendency of ambiguous perceptual experiences to pop back and forth unstably between two or more alternative interpretations.
Invariance is the property of perception whereby simple geometrical objects are recognized independent of rotation, translation, and scale; as well as several other variations such as elastic deformations, different lighting, and different component features.
Law of Closure
The mind may experience elements it does not perceive through sensation, in order to complete a regular figure (that is, to increase regularity).
Law of Similarity
The mind groups similar elements into collective entities or totalities. This similarity might depend on relationships of form, color, size, or brightness.
Law of Proximity
Spatial or temporal proximity of elements may induce the mind to perceive a collective or totality.
Law of Symmetry (Figure ground relationships)
Symmetrical images are perceived collectively, even in spite of distance.
Law of Continuity
The mind continues visual, auditory, and kinetic patterns.
Law of Common Fate
Elements with the same moving direction are perceived as a collective or unit.
Productive thinking
is solving a problem with insight.
Reproductive thinking
is solving a problem with previous experiences and what is already known.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

Kepes. Language of Vision. 1944 (original). On Google Books.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 12:00 PM

August 12, 2010


screen capture of email message from Zynga awarding me a daily fuel boost

I mentioned last week in our game salon that I feel farmed out. I have been playing seven different farm themed games on the iPad and in Facebook.

I also mentioned -- this week -- that every coffee plot in my Farmville game was harvested by hand. I didn’t make use of the virtual machinery that would speed up my farming. Mechanized harvesting is an offense against Juan Valdez, an aesthetic I hold dear. This brought on amused comments of “cyber-Thoreau” and “crazy luddite”.

The social aspect of these farm games, cow-clickers as Ian Bogost calls them, reminds me very much of cross-stitching or embroidery. I make great effort to create pleasing visual patterns. I’m encouraged to do so by prompts in the game and in the chrome -- the interface, so that others might find my farm attractive, and visit more often. This is a layer in addition to the mutual obligation relationship of the gift-economies (written about in great detail by "Afeeld").

I have envisioned a conceptual and actual performance work, where I play -- Farmville specifically -- as many different characters with the surname “Campesino”. The Campesino extended family would have the given names “Primero,” “Segundo,” “Tercero,” etc.... There could be geographically specific cousins with surnames like “Paisa,” “Opita,” or “Guajiro”. These Campesinos would work my farm in Farmville, “by hand”, and I would level up. They would each have a small, basic plot “neighboring” mine.

Earlier coverage by Bruce Sterling and "Afeeld"

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 09:18 AM

August 07, 2010

Comics - 1 | Green Arrow

I have a visceral memory of a Green Arrow story where our hero was having a crisis of confidence in his skills. He undertook a journey, and consulted a zen master. The master advised our hero that his release must be as snow falling off a leaf of a tree. I was not yet ten when I read that, and now -- at forty-five -- I still hold that passage close.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 07:29 AM

August 03, 2010

Hula Girl and Pirate - sketch 01

first sketch of hula girl and pirate, ball point pen on paper, 2009, composite

Hula Girl and Pirate is a small, purposefully broken, game I've created to help teach game design and development to kids using Scratch. These were drawn on the same day as the ninja precursor sketch, in 2009. I rolled out Hula Girl and Pirate for a test drive at our workshop at ACM SIGCSE 2010 in Milwaukee.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 10:19 PM

August 02, 2010

Clumsiest Ninja - sketch 05

Clumsiest Ninja sketch number 05 drawn in Adobe Ideas for the iPad

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 08:35 AM

Clumsiest Ninja - precursor sketch 00

sketch of square-bodied ninjas from 2009

Micro-ninja sketch from 2009, a precursor to the Clumsiest Ninja. Drawn by me with an inset drawing by Diego.

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 08:28 AM

August 01, 2010

Clumsiest Ninja - sketch 04

created in Adobe Ideas for iPad by Rafael Fajardo

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 07:30 PM

Clumsiest Ninja - sketch 03

Posted by Rafael Fajardo at 07:29 PM