Last Thursday, Eric Rosenthal was on the floor, giving office hours to everyone. I had a great chat with him, which really encouraged me.

Lately, I like everyone else, has been stressed at the uncertainty facing us post-graduation. It occurred to me that in ITP you learn things that are so undeniably useful… yet also so useless in the current job market. I said to Eric: it’s not like you can get a programming job after taking ICM, or an engineering job after taking Basic Analog Circuits, or be a carpenter after taking Intro to Fab. What’s ITP good for?

I caveated this question by letting Eric know how much I have appreciated his example. He seemed to make a career out of doing strange, unconventional and mind-blowing amazing stuff. Who else do you know got the US Navy to fund him conducting research into light using antennas shaped after the human cone cell? Who else is working on a project that he gets to send into SPACE. Like, actual space up in the sky. How did you manage this? I asked him.

Eric replied, “look – corporate America is full of people with an amazing depth of knowledge… but a very narrow focus. So for instance, if someone is working on LCD screens, they know everything there is to know about how to make LCD screens, how each component operates, how long it takes to produce them, etc…. but it would never occur to them to use and LCD screen as a light filter. It would never occur to them to use it for something that they’re not used to, because their focus is narrow. They cannot see beyond their focus.”

Eric said that he made his career out of being the guy that knows about a lot of things, so that he can connect the dots where everyone else that does not. He said that at one point in this life, he managed 120 PhDs for a research project, and meanwhile he was someone who never graduated from university. (I never asked him why this was). His point was that the generalist and the specialist both have their roles, but generally the jobs that are out there are specialist jobs.

For me, this broke an unconscious assumption I held that, for some reason, jack-of-all-trades were no-good, lazy people who never had the discipline to learn any one thing properly. I think this assumption lies at the bottom of contemporary capitalist culture, where everyone is expected to be a good little cog in the machine… except for visionary leaders, who are the ones who give the orders. I think Eric is a visionary person, and I think he is a leader or else he could not have accomplished what he has.You can only know what is “recently possible” if you have an operational knowledge of what’s out there. In this way, I think Eric embodies the ultimate ethos of ITP: know a broad range of things, Eric knows what is possible and able to connect to create a “recently possible”.

So in Eric Rosenthal style, here’s the good news: ITP gives you special abilities that not too many people in the workforce have, even “artists” may not have this breadth of knowledge. ITP gives you this ability through practical, workable knowledge of several different fields, whether your mix be: psychology, PCD board design, Node.js and Unity or something else. This gives you an ability to connect dots in a unique way.

Here’s the bad news: you (I) need to find out own place. Because your ability to connect the dots is dependent on the stuff you know, the world where you can have the most value as dot-connector will be different for everyone. It’s like one of Bruce Lee’s tenants of Jeet Kune Do: The Truth in Combat is Different for Every Individual in This Style. Adapted for ITP job searching, it would be “The Most ITP You Can Be In The Work Force is Different for Every Individual ITP Graduate.” But you will need to find that place yourself.

All in all, it’s positive news There’s a promised land, but you might take time to get there. And being a generalist is no better or worse than a specialist, it’s just a different role.

[Journal] Did a rooftop party gig

rooftop party

Summary: Had a productive week last week, not just for thesis, but for my art career overall. I learned good stuff about: showing art, the artist-curator relationship. I also made observations that will be incorporated into my current career strategy.


So I showed the 24×48 lightbox at an event on Saturday that was described to me as a “rooftop party for finance bros” and that was a pretty accurate descriptor although that characterization of the event misses out how awesome being on a rooftop is and that finance bros are still people, and some are super cool and some are not. Also: I have never seen so many people drink out of giant wine glasses in one place.

Anyways I put the lightbox up in this event in the hopes that maybe someone would want to buy it. I wasn’t sure how precisely that would happen, but my curator got me this gig, she knew the guy who threw the party since apparently, all Hungarians in New York City know each other. So she was there and I was there and there were DJs spinning house (one of which is actually a founder of the Flatiron school). I also met other wealthy people and it was an interesting look into the young financial elite.

pearls before swine

The whole thing was super awkward. I felt the art was not respected. The majority of the people could not give two shits about the light art. People put their empty drinks up on the table the lightbox was displayed. At one point, a half eaten nacho on the napkin was in front of it. The barbacks did a good job cleaning it though, so it wasnt so bad. But the whole thing felt awkward. Like I was really reaching for it there. Like this was just one step above setting up a hawker stand near Central Park and selling “I LOVE NY” logos stencilled on an MTA map.

Nonetheless at a certain point, I said fuck it and kicked back and just started to enjoy myself. It was an epic rooftop, the greatest I have ever been on in NYC, and I got three drink tickets for three $20 cocktails, and the party was $50 entrance, so I suppose I got paid in drinks and admittance to the party – which I am decidedly not OK with overall, but – meh – one time, this actually turned into a pretty good time. I meet very interesting people including a male asian pornstar who kind of broke every single stereotype of my own people and gave me hope for humanity.

alls quiet

There were definitely people interested in the art, and I enjoyed explaining it to them… But they weren’t there for the art – my art was there for them. A subtle but important difference… they didn’t come to see me, I came to see them. While it was fun, and I’m glad I did it, I don’t think I’ll do that again. I dont want to come to see them, I want them to come and see me. Or maybe in the beginning you gotta go see them and then they decide to come see you? I dunno — this is an unresolved question for me… I mean, you gotta hustle no matter what, so I dont want this to be an excuse for not hustling.)

I also learned a lot about the curator-artist relationship. Your curator is like an actor’s Hollywood agent. She finds you buyers, promotes you to galleries, gives you advice on presentation (which is honestly the weakest part of my game and has always been). I made the acquaintance with a more established artist recently and what I took away from his advice is that you need to partner with people who believe in you as strongly as you believe in yourself. This is why it’s useless to bang on galleries doors in the hopes of “convincing” them to show your work. If they they’re not into it, no direct action is going to change that. Maybe they’ll change their mind somewhere down the line, but you don’t control that. Their potential future support is not on a timeframe useful to the struggling artist here and now. Viola helps me because my success is her success, and likewise, her success is my success. It’s actually kind of a beautiful thing.

me and vio

I also find that curators are different animals than artists, just like how hollywood agents are different animals than actors, or how spies are different animals than intelligence analysts. Brains and brawn together. The curator is able to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk in a way that I think most artists would be embarrassed to. They are able to hard-sell, pull moves, use whatever means necessary to get something done… at least they are able to do it in a very different way than an artist. Beyond that they have a way of thinking and mindset that is highly strategic, observant… but in a way that is embodied in action, not just in abstract thought. In contrast, Artists quietly sit in a corner and make art, and are somewhat afraid of people. I’m generalizing but you know what I’m saying.

At 10pm, I wheeled the thing back to ITP, half drunk and very tired. But it was a nice learning experience and I was happy. At the very minimum it was a lot of information and learning that took place, despite probably not having any financial pay off. A lot of things to chew over in the head. Lot of “inputs”.


Socially Engaged Art // Online Communities

The online community I started was on my website’s YouTube Fortune Telling / I Ching Machine, which is a fortune telling system that tells you your fortune thought YouTube videos. The program is based on the traditional fortune-telling method of the I Ching, otherwise known as The Book of Changes.

I showed this project at Maker Faire this weekend to great reception. People were very interested in this modern take of a very ancient divination system.

So I decided to make a comment forum on my I Ching Machine webpage.

I hope that people will discuss their fortunes, perhaps discuss their questions and maybe re-vitalize interest in this ancient book.

PDS / lead or lead-free solder?

Soldering the led matrix together.

Suddenly, soldering iron tip stops getting hot. Uh-oh… tips oxidized

Progress halted till new tips

Googled “how to prevent soldering iron tips oxidation”

Found the lead vs lead-free solder

Energy Final / Chakra Lights

For my energy final, I will build a little buddha statue out of concrete with acrylic rods and LEDS embedded in it. The statue will have a flexible solar panel embedded in its back and will have 7 lights (corresponding to the 7 chakras) inside it. It will gather light during the day (from its backside) and project them through its chakra lights on its front by night. This design was inspired by the concrete & light work of Amitabh Shrivastava.
The sculpture will be an energy sufficient art object meant to be placed with its backside toward the sunlight. It is designed for the top floor of my house, which receives a good amount of indirect sunlight during the daytime. I will house it at ITP’s east window, where our group housed our midterm solar project.
7 neopixel LED pixels
1 Arducam PRO Mini Atmega328 Development Board
  • For 7 neopixel, estimated at 20mA/pixel at normal usage x 7 pixels = 150mA. At full brightness this is 60mA x 7 pixels = 420mA
    • Watts = Amps x Volts
      • at 60mA estimated draw: 0.43A x 5v = 2.15W for the lights
      • at 20mA estimated draw: 0.15A x 5v = 0.75W
  • For Pro Mini: 4mA minimum requirement (from
    • Watts = 0.004A x 5V = .02W
  • TOTAL POWER BUDGET: For 20mA calculation per LED, total is 0.02W (for pro mini) + 0.75W (for 7 neopixels) = 0.77W
  • TOTAL POWER BUDGET: For 60mA calculation per LED, total is 0.02W + 2.15W = 2.17W total load
6V 1W Panel (to order)
3.7 W 1200mAh Battery (I already have this):
5V Charging battery board (to order)

Future Scenarios / Concept Maps

Concept Map showing flow of action of Steve Bannon’s “Culture War”. Here, “Radical Political Actors” can be defined as elements grouped under the “Alt-Right”. The arrow direction shows the manner in which effectation was enacted.

Concept map of how the role social media played in the Egyptian Revolution (2011):

By contrast, here is the concept map of the dynamic of political repression vis-a-vis democracy activists in the pre-social media Mubarak era:

Concept map of Russian interference in the US Political System 2014-present:


PDS / April Update


I initially waited to construct the new LED matrix until I had a grip on the power requirements. My old board was 2240 LEDs running from a 5V 70A 350W power supply, although it just good enough (I know this because when I run the whole thing at full white, it flickers). However, even as I type this I become unsure of my knowledge — Eric Rosenthal told me that when white LEDs turn yellow that means too much current. Overall, my deficiencies in understanding electricity is something that I wished to address, and measuring power requirements for the new board was a means of doing so.

I started out by scheduled a meeting with Eric Rosenthal, power guru of ITP. He recommended that I first find the “peak instantaneous  voltage” of my old LED board by connecting a 1 OHM resistor and using Ohm’s Law to calculate exactly what is the amperage that I require. The different patterns that I displayed drew different amounts of current, depending on how many LEDs were on and what colour the LEDS were.

However I didn’t really do a good job at measuring the current this way. The first 1OHM resistor I used was a tiny one, and when I made the circuit in series, nothing happened. I used other resistors and mostly, nothing happened on the board since there was not enough current. One resistor smoked and I suspect I blew other resistors also.

Later, after consulting with Jeff Feddersen, I learned that different resistors had different Wattage. I would need a much heartier resistor to do what I needed. However, even using 5W and 10W 1OHM resistors in the ITP shop, I still could not calculate what I needed. Time kept ticking and I just wanted to start making the damn thing.

So I decided that if my current power supply worked for a 2240-pixel LED matrix, it would definitely be enough to work on a 1850 and 1900-pixel LED matrix, since I decided to do it in two modules.


I put up the metal L brackets according to plan and the paper was not as tight as I wanted. The thin part of the L bracket could be the culprit. Next steps on this will be to use nails with big heads to increase surface area that sandwiches the paper.


From previous experience I know that each LED strip needs its own connection to the power supply, rather than running the power through the entire strip (which does not do the job). However when I was using a stiff piece of plywood to mount the LED strips to, I could just staple the 12 AWG wire to the board and everything wouldn’t move, including the solder points.

But since I am using a flexible piece of vinyl, I face the challenge of needing a stiff 12 AWG wire soldered to each LED strip, however it needs to be attached to the flexible vinyl. Something stiff attached to something flexible. I consulted Ben Light on this. After the consultation and two hours of deep visualization while sitting on a display rack in Home Depot, I decided upon a low tech solution: I would staple a piece of plywood to the back of the vinyl with heavy-duty staples. And I would staple the 12 AWG to it too. Just like on the old board.