5:50: Open Source panel with James Powderly and Hojun Song
Creators James Powderly and Hojun Song just took the stage to discuss their various art projects and how open source technology and a collaborative working model has benefited their work. Vice/VBS Creative Director Eddy Moretti gave a brief intro and explained open source to the crowd: “The idea of open source is an interesting philosophical concept where the experts are displaced by the community who contribute their knowledge to the initiative.”
Powderly took the stage first and gave a run-through of his seriously impressive resume (I mean, the dude was an engineer for N.A.S.A. before he began pursuing art and worked on the Mars Exploration rovers), highlighting some of his best-known projects like L.A.S.E.R. Tag and Eyewriter, both of which are collaborations with artists from the Free Art & Technology labs (F.A.T. Labs) collective. He closed with the story of the Eyewriter and how it was designed for legendary LA-based graffiti writer Tempt, who is now paralyzed due to Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Eyewriter allows Tempt to continue tagging with his eyes, the only part of his body that he can still move. We caught up with him for a post-panel discussion to learn more about his work, which is above.
Next, it was Hujon Song’s turn to dazzle the audience with his interactive design pieces. But when he took the stage he warned the crowd, “I’m really here to sell t-shirts” and pulled a rack of shirts on to the stage. The shirts, it turned out, were being sold to support Song’s latest project, the Open Source Satellite Initiative (OSSI), a DIY miniature satellite that Song hopes to one day launch into space. He prototyped some of the circuit technology with the crowd, asking everybody in the room to make a giant circle and hold hands. Once the circuit was complete, it triggered a satellite mock-up in the corner of the room that flashed light in morse code.