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Oct 29, 2012

Announcing... The Steampunk Fashion Contest

Announcing... The Steampunk Fashion Contest

On this day of Hurricane Sandy, we're making our playlist for the MOS Theater of Electricity reception, and confirming our brave Faraday Cage volunteers. Confirmed guests in the Faraday cage on Nov. 7th include: Susan Battista, Geoff Hargadon, Steve Hollinger, and Dave Strickler but you can have your 15 seconds as well... 

What is Steampunk? The Wiki definition. I like to think of it as Victorian, Sci-fi, Cyberpunk, retro-futuristic. Steampunk fashions will be judged by former Boston Globe fashion writer, Tina Cassidy and a small committee from the Museum of Science.

Get your tickets in advance:
MOS LIGHTNING STRIKES EVENT NOV 7th, 2012

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Events October 2012 SciArt Science Social Media US

Oct 25, 2012

I'M NO ROCKSTAR, I'M JUST A RANDOM NERD

I'M NO ROCKSTAR, I'M JUST A RANDOM NERD

OK Greg, whatever you say, but do random nerds have magazine articles like this written about them?

POWER TRIPPING 
by David Pescowitz
MAKE MAGAZINE (Volume 11, Summer 2007)

Greg Leyh is the pre-eminent high-voltage expert and tesla coil guru responsible for building the Electrum sculpture, by artist Eric Orr for Gibbs Farm, New Zealand in 1998. He has since gotten his ambitious Lightning Foundry project underway which is an enormous twin tesla coil concept - and you guessed it - bigger than anything ever built before. Greg is known for his work with SF machine performance art group Survival Research Labs and the Burning Man Festival.

Greg will appear in-person at the Boston Museum of Science on November 7th, as part of the "Lightning Strikes" event film premiere of the documentary "Lightning Dreams: The Electrum at Gibbs Farm." On this evening, Greg will unveil his Lightning Foundry proposal.

Perhaps the Oatmeal would consider this idea for the new Nikola Tesla Science Center being planned in NY state.

Purchase your tickets in advance.

MOS event page:
http://www.mos.org/events_activities/events&d=5620

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Events October 2012 SciArt Science US World Tags greg leyh, tesla coil, survival reserach labs, burning man, boston, museum of science, lightning dreams, lightning strikes, david pescowitz, make magazine, Eric Orr, Lightning Foundry

Oct 31, 2012

Filmmaker Alberta Chu: The Science of Art

Filmmaker Alberta Chu: The Science of Art

Boston-based documentary filmmaker Alberta Chu loves to combine two passions––art and science––in her work. She does it yet again in her latest film, Lightning Dreams: The Electrum at Gibbs Farm (2011), which premieres November 7 at Boston’s Museum of Science. Alberta’s fourth documentary, Lightning Dreams highlights the story of Alan Gibbs, one of New Zealand’s most prolific art patrons.

She took the time to talk with me about her career path, the journey leading up to this film, and the voice that she hopes to offer her subjects in the fields of art and science.

ASTRID LIUM: How did you get involved with documentary filmmaking?

ALBERTA CHU: I started out as a biologist, [and] I worked as a researcher in L.A. at a biotech company. I had always wanted to get into journalism, and I thought maybe science documentaries could be a way for me to use my science background and break into documentary or journalism. I started a science consulting company, [where] scientists who were tops in their fields would consult with Hollywood screenwriters and set decorators for accuracy. We worked on one of the X-Men films to develop the Wolverine character [and] help them figure out what his supernatural powers would be. It was a way for them to bounce ideas off scientists and get more creative.

How did working as a researcher lead to documentary films?

I did a segment on volcano research. As a researcher there were tons of stories being produced all the time, and I met tons of producers and directors. Most of the stories I would pitch were science, and on one of the shoots I was producing for Sci-Fi Channel I met Greg Leyh, the guy in my film that is premiering at the Museum of Science. I found out that he was building the world’s biggest tesla coil for this billionaire art collector in New Zealand. I pitched it around L.A., but no one wanted to do it, so I decided to make an independent documentary film called The Electrum about the project in the year 2000 about the Electrum sculpture. That film played at a lot of festivals, aired on PBS, won a bunch of awards.

What is the documentary about?

The film was about a quirky group of scientists and engineers that build the world’s largest tesla coil, which ends up in New Zealand. But the guy who commissioned it––the billionaire–– gave me permission to do the film but he didn’t want to be in it. He was very private at the time. His name is Alan Gibbs and he’s ... just totally cool. He’s building a giant sculpture park and the reason he likes art is the likes the mental sparring with the artists. He likes to push them to do better work. He pushes everyone around him, you can see why he’s so successful because he never settles for anything. He’s always pushing for more ... so that’s why he’s the owner of the world’s biggest tesla coil!

How is your relationship with Alan?

He’s bigger than life. It’s been so interesting to have interactions with him, and he likes my films. So he’s been sort of like my patron, in a way. So he invited me to do the Serra film (2003-04), then the Anish Kapoor film (2009-10). Then he asked me to do a film about the Electrum sculpture in 2010, about 10 years after the original film was made. He wanted this new film to include his perspective. The new film, Lightning Dreams, is about the conception and the whole story of the sculpture.

Why do you do the work you do?

I make films about scientists and artists because they see things that aren’t there yet. They’re envisioning the future and I think that’s really inspiring. They inspire me to make films about them, and my hope is that my films will inspire other people to push boundaries of what’s known and unknown and to look and wonder and dream themselves. Because that’s the only thing that humans can do that computers can’t. There’s something about creativity that’s impossible to articulate. I mean science and art really are the same thing and they have become very divergent in today’s culture.

How do you choose the topics for your documentaries?

I’m about making films about creative people that are changing the world for the better, who want to make a difference. I make films about scientists that are making a difference, trying to make the world a better place. If I can give a voice ... I can help them announce their victories and inspire people to help with what they’re doing. I can help them get out their important messages because they are doing very important work. A lot of time they can’t explain it to a regular audience, and I can help.

Do you feel like you’re a translator in some way?

Yes, translating ideas and concepts for a general audience, totally. I hope to be. And same with artists.

It can be a challenge, though.

Yeah, it’s hard to create something. It’s not easy, none of it’s easy, it’s all work. It can be very rewarding work, but if I can help a scientist or artist expose their labors and their victories ... and their failures to a wider audience, that’s what I’m about -- finding the most interesting creative people in the world, and telling stories that really inspire people to create.

- Interview by Astrid Lium, Twitter: @astridspeak 

The world premiere of Lightning Dreams is November 7, 2012, at 6:45 p.m. at Boston’s Museum of Science (1 Museum of Science Drive, Boston, MA). The screening is part of the museum’s “Lightning Strikes” event, one of the Fall 2012 adult offerings. For more information:
Facebook Event Page https://www.facebook.com/events/425196287515432/ 
MOS Event Page www.mos.org/events_activities/events&d=5620.

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events October 2012 SciArt SciComm Science US World Tags Alan Gibbs, Lightning Dreams, art, science, documentary film, alberta chu, museum of science, boston greg leyh

Oct 12, 2012

More ASKlabs Events on the Horizon

More ASKlabs Events on the Horizon

This just in: the RISD Museum will be holding the world premiere screening of our 2010 film "New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor Dismemberment Site 1" along with an old favorite, our 2004 film "Seeing the Landscape: Richard Serra's Tuhirangi Contour." Back in 2004 "Seeing the Landscape" screened at the MFA Boston, the MIT List, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the National Gallery of art as part of the Washington DC Environmental Film Festival as well as at the Festival of Films on Art in Montreal. 

Both films will be screened on the same night, and we're looking at Jan./Feb. 2013.

Hope you can make it and please help spread the word!

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Oct 5, 2012

Putting it Together: The Modular Car at MIT

Putting it Together: The Modular Car at MIT

What can we do about global warming that can really make a difference? How can we really reduce automobile carbon emissions? What does the vehicle of the future look like? That's what Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students Anna Jaffe, Nii Armar, and Robyn Allen asked themselves when they founded the Vehicle Design Summit (VDS) in 2006. Six years and several experimental vehicles later, the group has grown into a global collective of designers, engineers, and specialists of every sort, representing nearly every continent (with the exception of Antarctica.) Collectively, they have built vehicles that achieve 200mpg(e) on alternative fuels. Their latest prototype vehicle called ArchiMITes, with its ability to change between different fuel systems and car bodies, will serve as a platform to develop modular vehicle parts. This leads into the 10^5 Competition, the next big project for the Vehicle Design Summit.  Projected for 2013-14, the10^5 Competition which will leverage innovation around the world in an effort to build out 100,000 permutations of possible modular cars, each with the minimum fuel efficiency goal set by the XPrize: 100mpg(e). 

Sponsored by GE, film distributors Focus Forward Films and Cinelan launched the Focus Forward Film Competition in April 2012. Their call for submissions: short films on innovators and inventors changing the world for the better was an opportunity that ASKlabs absolutely could not pass up -- our passion is making films about exactly this! After months of research, we thought Anna and crew fit the bill perfectly. So we spent a day in August filming at VDS headquarters: MIT's Edgerton Center.

Many thanks to Anna, Nii, and Mitsu Shinomiya for participating in front of the camera and to the following who participated behind the camera: Director of Photography Stephen McCarthy, Editor Stephanie Munroe, Animator Alex Hogan, Composer P. Andrew Willis, Audio Mix Eric Masunaga at Modulus, Post-Production Consultant: Gabriele de Simone, with thanks to Murray Robinson, Camilla Brinkman, and Alison Hynd.

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Events October 2012 SciArt SciComm Science US

Oct 2, 2012

Lightning Stunt by David Blaine: A New Form of Cyber-Sadism?

Lightning Stunt by David Blaine: A New Form of Cyber-Sadism?

In today's NY Times, John Tierney's article "If He Starts Nodding Off, Try Another Million Volts" reports "David Blaine, the magician and endurance artist, is ready for more pain. With the help of the Liberty Science Center, a chain-mail suit and an enormous array of Tesla electrical coils, he plans to stand atop a 20-foot-high pillar for 72 straight hours, without sleep or food, while being subjected to a million volts of electricity.... When Mr. Blaine performs “Electrified” on a pier in Hudson River Park, the audience there as well as viewers in London, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney, Australia, will take turns controlling which of the seven coils are turned on, and at what intensity. They will also be able to play music by producing different notes from the coils. The whole performance, on Pier 54 near West 13th Street, will be shown live at www.youtube.com/electrified.

Greg Leyh, San Francisco tesla coil guru, known for building The Electrum, the world's largest tesla coil remarks, "I don't really see what the big risk is." He goes on, "If he's inside a Faraday Cage he's under no risk at all. The electric field inside a conductor is zero. If he were outside of it however that would be truly interesting death-defying work." Greg Leyh will make a rare public appearance and perform live demonstrations at the Boston Museum of Science event "Lightning Strikes" on November 7, 2012. BUY TICKETS.

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Oct 1, 2012

Building the Impossible

I'm in awe of people who can envision things that don't exist yet and then actually make them a reality. The triumvurate of entrepreneur and art patron Alan Gibbs, artist Eric Orr, and high-voltage engineer Greg Leyh is a great example. Working together on The Electrum sculpture, they overcame unheard of physical and technical hurdles and in the end realized the impossible. Gibbs provided the vision and the funding, Orr made the magic, and Leyh built the device.

The making of "Lightning Dreams: The Electrum at Gibbs Farm" has been an amazing journey, which began in San Francisco waaaay back in 1997. It has been a pleasure to working with and getting to know Alan Gibbs, Noel Lane, and the entire Gibbs Family on this and other documentaries about the building of Gibbs Farm.

I had an excellent crew on "Lightning Dreams," one I'm eager to work with again. New Zealand DP Scottie McKinnon delivered above and beyond. Editor Sabrina Zanella-Foresi, Composer Andrew Willis, and the Modulus crew: Eric Masunaga, Paul McGowan, Evan Schwenterly and Frank McDonnell on Color-Correction and HD Mastering, Damon Addleman the Re-Recording Mixer. And of course my trusty "Kitchen Cabinet" who reviewed numerous roughcuts and gave invaluable feedback: Murray Robinson, Steve Hollinger, Fritz Klaetke, Susan Battista, Polly Becker, Camilla Brinkman, Alexandra Metral, Gitika Desai, and Jocelyn Glatzer. Thanks to all!

Don't miss our world premiere at the Museum of Science on November 7th, with engineer Greg Leyh and filmmaker Alberta Chu in person. BUY TICKETS NOW

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Events October 2012 SciArt Science US World