I'm unfortunately having battery problems at the moment. I'll finish the previous post as soon as I get these issues worked out. Thanks!



the story pt. 1

Ok folks,

So I guess most of you whom are keeping up with my blog have see the 'hovercart' in action. As promised, I'd like to try and bring everyone up to speed.

So I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to tackles this. So much has happened since the decision to try and make this thing hover, I'm not sure where to begin. So I guess I'll start with the conversation that started all of this and see where it goes.

So Bill and I sat down one afternoon in late January. I brought him up to speed on all of the models, drawings and ideas I was working on.

Somewhere in the conversation, Bill and I started talking about how big the casters might be and whether or not they could be seen. I had always assumed they would be somewhat visible, so each model had a set. They were probably bigger in model form than they needed to be. I think it was a deliberate decision so that I was always aware this thing would be mobile.

At one point he picked one of the models and pulled the little card board casters off and laid it on the desk. In response, I drew a little sketch representing the exact opposite. I was thinking of raising the cart where the casters and their connections were like legs. His response to the sketch was something along the lines of resembling a forced air system that used air pressure to move large machines. At that we both looked at each other with a sorta sheepish grin. "What if the cart didn't have casters?" We both sort of giggled in a way that is reminiscent of a corny or ridiculous joke... Hover? Seriously how could that be possible. Well it all went down hill from there in terms of the ridiculous nature of getting this thing off the ground. It was all speculative but I'll be honest and say that a nice jolt of energy surged through me at the thought "what if". How could it work? I hadn't the foggiest notion. We spent the better part of another hour brainstorming further into the world of 'hover tectonics'.. I think both of us just had a crude understanding there needed to be a motor and a fan. Bill insisted the motor(s) be Briggs and Stratton two cycle engines. I was a little more hesitant but what was I to know.

Well the hook was set by the end of our conversation. I dove in head first and started research. I wasn't sure where to begin so I the obvious - hovercrafts or anything related to hovering. I scoured the net hoping to glean anything that would make me wiser. After the first day or so I wasn't finding much specific information. There were tons of pictures of real hovercrafts, leaf blower and vacuum cleaner references but nothing that was a specific how to at the scale of my cart. I kept looking.

At one point I got a little frustrated and decided to give myself no more than a week: one, to see if it was viable and two, to see if the idea kept my interest and enthusiasm. At one particularly deflated moment, I called Bill in Las Vegas (he was at World of Concrete). I wanted to tell him that combustible engines were out. As I had figured and eventually determined, it's illegal to run a gas powered engine indoors... especially a museum. So what were my other options, I asked? In a very uncharacteristically calm and clear voice, Bill explained he had figured about the same but to keep at it. There were numerous other options still out there... diesel, propane and electrical.

I hung up feeling a bit more charged and decided to keep going. I only had a few more days left in my week time limit so what the hell; I dove in again. I found myself eliminating ideas faster than I was generating them. Propane was out.. again flammable material. Diesel might work if it were converted to run off of biodiesel. But after much research, I decided that wouldn't work. In order to create biodiesel, you have to refine the fuel which includes using other flammable materials through what seemed like a complicated process. So diesel was out. My last resort was good old electricity. My first thought was that I didn't want it be tethered to the wall by an extension cord, so the only other option was to run off of DC power.. or batteries.

Well at this point I hadn't come across ANY DC powered hovercrafts. I was pretty much at a loss on where to go and what to research. I desperately turned to some web forums for advice and started sending out emails to hovercraft enthusiasts at an alarming rate. I hoped someone/anyone out there might have pity on me and reply with some sound advice. I looked everywhere for people who might be interested and respond to my query. I crafted a letter and literally spammed it around the web. I created forum posts on numerous hovercraft specific, physics and engineering website bulletin boards, again hoping someone might bite.

Between checking my inbox and the forum posts for replies every 2 or 3 minutes, I started looking at large scale cordless devices. Cordless lawnmowers and leaf blowers came to mind. I also eventually gave in a spent the $30 and bought a set of hover craft blueprints. They tauted easy step by step instructions on how to build your own personal hovercraft. They in fact were incredibly helpful in giving me my first inclinations into how a hovercraft actually worked. There were equations, materials, energy, thrust and lift, ducts, a skirt, among a whole slew of things that I was only scratching the surface.

Around this time I started to receive replies from my emails and posts. Most of the feedback either was either enthusiasm towards the project, proclamations that it wouldn't work all together or questions. Well the enthusiasm helped, a lot, mostly for my spirit and the proclamations I just ignored but the questions were somewhat daunting because well I didn't have any of the answers.. So I responded with more questions. Eventually I came across and received replies from a hand full of people who seemed generally interested in what I was doing and appeared to want to help. One being the CEO of one of the worlds largest hovercraft manufacturers. I thought, wow! If this guy is interested maybe he can help guide me a little in the right direction. Another guy, Matt, was someone I had emailed because he lived about 60 miles away. I figured if worst came to worst, I could plead enough to allow him a few minutes of face time to talk over my proposal.




here's some images of the cart.



Video 1



Holy crap it works

woohoo. It's up and running. Pics and maybe a video to soon follow.




waiting patiently for the fan. (twiddles thumbs)

flickr has new pictures.





atlas hovercraft


dewalt service

briggs and stratton

hovercraft club of great britain




Craft, I mean cart.

Well the cart has taken a dramatic twist. I can't divulge too much quite yet but when I get some more research done, I'll try and fill everyone in.




More model images posted here.



Meeting with Bill

Meeting with Bill January 3, 2007

Bill and I met around 1pm to talk about my project. As he ate his Papa Joe's salad, I went over some of the ideas that have been in my head recently (see previous posts). Instead of listing all of the comments here, I thought I would try to flesh out the general ideas that were discussed regarding the performance (spectacle not efficiency) of the piece. He and I both agreed that most of the ideas I rambled off were performance driven in that they required a certain amount of involvement from the audience or user. We talked at length about how instead of requiring the server and patron to contribute that it could become a passive performance. There can be two elements at work. Something that is immediately gratifying or quick and something that lasts or is long-term. This can be any number of things of course but if there is something that the server and patron can be a participant in immediately (I use participate loosely here) but also serve as a framework or backdrop for an on going experience. This would allow someone who is interested in the ideas presented to him or her at that moment might be different each time they interact with the cart.

We also discussed what might be an important event to explore is the notion of what gets consumed and how it is consumed. Many of the ideas that I have written down thus far reflect on the idea of consumption. For example, what is served, what is used and what is thrown away - food, spirits, water, tea, etc to bottle caps, wine corks, bottles, napkins, toothpicks, glasses, etc. How can these acts influence the design process?

One idea that I had not considered was using image or video as a vehicle for documenting use of the cart. Bill said that it might be interesting if one event overlapped another event. To give you an example, we talked about capturing an image of a patron as they ordered a drink. This image could be taken covertly so that the patron is not aware they are being filmed or photographed. The image can then be stored with all of the other images taken during that event. The next time the cart is deployed, the images stored are displayed in some manner. After these ideas were brought up, all Bill and I discussed for the rest of the meeting were how they might taken and then displayed. They could be displayed horizontally on the bar surface, projected onto a screen or other surface like a wall or ceiling, on the side of the cart, floor, etc etc. What I liked most about this idea was the fact that the images overlapped each event so that people at one event are getting to see images of an event that has already happened. I also feel, but am trying to grasp the words, the act of storing this information and displaying it follows my original intentions of exploring the notion of storage and ritual of use.

Some questions and comments that have come to mind since my meeting:

A profile shot would be the easiest way of capturing someones photo covertly, otherwise the server might be in the way.

How does movement trigger the capturing of an image or video?

Is it image or video and why?

I would need a program written to capture the images, name them and then be able to organize and display them.

The capture station could be a one way mirror similar to one I saw at an installation in the Stray Show, Chicago a couple of years ago.

How are the images/video displayed?

More later....



Project Thoughts (Ongoing additions)

Here are a few thoughts on the cart project. Good, bad or just down right silly, I plan on keeping all of them in this post and continually adding them at the end. As always comments are welcome!

A see-saw: the patron sits on one end pushing the bartender up high enough to grab a glass or bottle of something.

A commentary on McDonald's "over 60 billion served" - have a display that tallies up each drink that has been served from the cart.

At all times there is the ability to serve a margarita or some other "exotic" drink.

A vending machine.

A corridor is constructed so that one or two patrons can enter. There are two walls and possibly a ceiling above. Within the walls are small holes from which to pass the patrons hand. The patron can either push a button or speak through another opening approximately head height and order a drink.

All tops, caps, corks, etc are removed and collected in a central container and kept stored for the lifespan of the cart.

Purchase a hot-wire glass cutter. When someone is done with a bottle of beer or a bottle of wine, a server cuts the bottle creating a glass. The glass can either be given to the patron or stored within the cart for future use. Note: the top of the bottle will need to be sanded.

The waste from the cart is inserted and stored somewhere on the cart, ie, bottles, etc.

All glass material once used is crushed into small pieces and inserted somewhere.

Tether food and drinks to the cart - a possible length determiner would be the distance to the "gallery opening" preventing anyone from taking food and drinks into the gallery.

Turn style

Commentary on craft - shaker to laser cutting technology.



Meeting with Allison

Friday December 15, 2006
Meeting with Allison Mitchell, Event Coordinator of Chartwells Catering

Allison and I met at 11am. Since Allison coordinates all of the Chartwell catered events on campus, I wanted to pick her brain regarding the specifics of these events. What types of food and drinks are served and for what types of events as well as what preparation is done for the events.

Allison said that Chartwell has a list of "potential items needed" for all sorts of event types. Before planning an event, the appropriate list is reviewed and each item that is needed is checked so it can be gathered and will be present for the event. She said that she will email me the event item lists on Monday.

Allison said one of the biggest challenges when planning an event is getting tables and other required serving platforms because they usually have to obtain these items from various parts of the campus. Sometimes these items are not returned promptly or are "missing" from their usual locations. She said the assurance of always having a "ready-made" service area would make their life easier.

Allison said that Kim, the Banquet manager and Marie, the Banquet Captain could also be an invaluable resource for information.



review notes

Below is a list of comments made during my review. I'll add the past two days of reviews have been some of the most amazing critical experiences to date I have been a part of. The discussion and critical feedback offered to everyone was not only insightful but honest. I'll also ,the work commanded such a response. It is by far some of the most exciting and compelling work I've witnessed in my year and a half at Cranbrook.

Wednesday December 13, 2006

My review notes from end of the semester reviews.

With regard to obsolete spaces for specific object, Brookes gave an example of houses designed in the 50's or 60's (?) that had built in cabinets for a specific TV. She said that in some cases when the family bought a new TV or the current one broke, the cavity became useless.

The tool belt is an example of an object that has places for specific tools but any brand or many different variations of that tool can still fit.

Bill mentioned that one thing that is constant with the piece is the potential that it is never used without people. He went on to say that it is the "opposite of compartmentalizing people".

The cart can be a "time bomb" that goes off from time to time. Social nature.

Social device

Spectacle. " An elephant walking into the room."

The cart can "alter the life of the party" in some way.

What is it going to offer to the atmosphere?

Creating a ritual of adding something to the party.

Could it be invisible until the act of opening it up; then once open become invisible?

When people interact with it, the event becomes special.

Accentuating the preconceived notions of serving.

Removing all familiarity and replacing it with something new.

Fixed program.

"here's the bar, now it's gone."

Doug mentioned a wall of speakers that Tom Sachs constructed. He said it was enormous with almost 20 speakers in various sizes. He said on the side of the piece, hanging autonomously, was a fire axe. This potentially can change the entire narrative of the project, the introduction of an independent object or device (humor?, uneasiness?, release?). There could be something like this on the cart, an object that transforms the immediate perception of the object.

Respond to my previous work.



review artist statement

For the end of semester reviews, we were asked to compose an "artist statement". I use quotes because it did not have to be a specific statement about our work but could also be a statement about our project, projections, findings in the work, goals, etc. The statements were printed and given to the two "crit leads" and Bill. The crit leads were to facilitate discussion, ask questions, etc. Marty and Leon lead my review. Below is my statement.

Organizing my work space before starting a project allows me to cleanse my thoughts. If my physical space is a mess, my thoughts will reflect that state. Not only does this literally provide me with a clean slate, it also ensures that when I need a specific tool everything is where it should be. This communion of tools and space enables me to work without pause.

The objects I have most recently created grew out of this tendency, this need for an organized environment.

I have created a series of small wooden boxes; each a custom-made home for an individual tool. Beyond functionality, these vessels lend respect to the objects they house. Their design and creation furthers my exploration of process, craft, joinery, storage and ritual.

Recently I was given the opportunity to design and build a functional, mobile artifice for the Cranbrook Museum. The hope is to explore the poetics of organization and the ritual of use. When complete, it will provide an efficient service platform from which to serve food and drinks during museum exhibitions and social functions.

Over the last few weeks, I have sought funding for my project and just recently secured a generous donation. I have also been collaborating with the director of the museum to identify the locations of the piece and various ways in which it will function. I have also been collecting insight from various Cranbrook administrators about other potential uses for the piece. Additionally, I am consulting with catering and event planning experts to learn more about what specific service pieces and other objects the cart will need to house.



Meeting with Bob

December 8, 2006
Meeting with Bob Yares, Event Coordinator of Cranbrook Academy of Art

Bob and I met at 3pm in my studio. I wanted to talk to Bob about the functions that happen on the Cranbrook campus, specifically ones that will utilize the cart.

Bob suggested that there should be an insulated area in the cart to provide a space to put both (but obviously not at the same time) hot and cold food for serving. Hot food might be hot plates or appetizers heated up in another location and then put into the insulation cavity to stay warm. The cavity could also hold ice or other items that need to stay cold.

Bob said that Board meetings might utilize the cart for before or after drinks.

Bob mentioned that there are many business meetings that are held in the DeSalle auditorium during the summer months. He said that the cart could be used on the landing to the right of the auditorium. There also might be brunch served in the Forum Gallery for other events. He said that there might be occasions where coffee or tea is served after a lecture or symposium. There are also small receptions or committee meetings held that might utilize the cart. (*verify what meetings and how many people)

Bob suggested that wine might be poured and served from decanters during events. This way the cart can permanently hold several specific sized decanters.

Bob said that there is a Governors meeting in DeSalle auditorium either every month or four times a year. Coffee and tea are on hand but mainly water is served. There might be 30-40 people at these meetings. (*verify)

Bob said that the majority of food that is served at these events are orduerves such as cheese or fruit platters. Tongs or toothpicks could be used by patrons to serve themselves.

There are about 800-900 people who attend the second year Degree Show opening. Fanfare usually has between 200 and 250 people.

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