Month: September 2002

introduction to ITP

right.

its er.. week 5 or six I think. I’m starting to lose track. NYC sucks you into its great gleaming skyscraper-edged maw and leaves you wondering what, how and most importantly why…

ah yes, why… well, I started figuring out the why about two weeks ago today when we started classes at ITP. If you don’t know, the acronym stands for the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Whew! ITP. let’s keep it that way.

after a week of orientation which climaxed with a three hour long official welcoming ceremony where we witnessed firsthand the insanely high quality of musical theatre writing, acting, filmmaking and dance that is being created at tisch, the wait was finally over!

I started last week with four classes – Applications of Interactive Technologies, Communications Lab, Introduction to Computational Media and Introduction to Physical Computing. And you thought that the name was the only mouthful. these guys sure don’t understand how to string together a course name with under 20 syllables. the amount of students is surprisingly large, considering that this is a master’s program. in the first year alone there are 117, most of whom have extremely varied backgrounds. we’ve got one Iraqi painter, a bunch of Japanese girls who used to work for Sega, some Japanese guys who still work for some enormous broadcasting behemoth from Tokyo, many Koreans, a gaggle of Taiwanese, a bunch of Israelis, some Brazilians, some from the Phillipines, some from Philly and some from the ass end of Mid-West America. Mid-fucking West as they say. Oh yes, there’s also a couple of students from New York, ha, silly me.. forgetting that little minority. All in all, under one roof I have met more people from more countries at one time than I ever did before.

In fact, the first week is spent walking around saying “Hi, I’m from South Africa, yes we have wild animals, AIDS and Nelson Mandela – where are you from?” It’s quite ridiculous the amount of people in the program, thankfully, after we started doing classes together and hanging out a bit, I managed to pick up most people’s names by osmosis. Although in New York, you tend to meet new people almost everywhere you go. or at least I do, because I don’t know anybody. So remembering everybody is a challenge in itself. but enough rambling, my real reason for writing is to tell you that Americans are crackpots.

huh? what? Did I hear somebody say I told you so? Well, its not like you think. Cultural difference has never held too much of an impressive office in my attention bank, until now. Being an outsider, I live, eat, sleep, breathe, smell, taste, feel, translate cultural difference. Everything becomes filtered through a uniquely South African set of perspectives and values. So what? Well… for one thing, I never realized how genuinely wasteful the people here are. On rubbish day, entire living room sets without a scratch on them are curbed, turfed or kerbed if you prefer that lingo and left to the hobos and students. I have stumbled over perfectly working televisions, lamps, radios, enormous queen size beds and many other artifacts just lying on the pavements.

I reckon with a decent sized rowboat and a few lads to help me out, one trip to the Upper East Side on garbage day will yield enough valuable booty to fetch a king’s ransom in some African kleptocracy like.. er.. South Africa or Nigeria. No, seriously, the stuff is unreal. Many of my fellow students are using discarded electronic equipment ranging from toasters to full size fans to microwave ovens as the basis for their projects. damn. Dan even found a pair of semi-new computer speakers outside this office that was turfing all their equipment. its sheer madness.

even the marketing people are getting in on it with ikea reputedly conceiving of an entirely new campaign to convince people to junk their old furniture. don’t take my word for it – ask the new york times.

In fact, this strategy has worked so well for me that this girl at ITP gave me a brand spanking new ikea desk yesterday. kif hey? Feel the difference in the quality of email? I’ve become Edward Norton from Fight Club and I love it. My life is no longer empty, I have swedish furniture.

okay since reading this will probably take longer than most of you are at work, I’ll rein my little rambling fingers in smartly. heel! fingers! stay.

in the meantime, if you get the urge to email me. fight it! fight it I say, until you canna fight it any longer.. its always lovely to hear from you…

if you want to read my weekly journals go to http://stage.itp.nyu.edu/~ms1671. this is where you will be able to track my progress as I go from making tiny little LEDs glow to creating super neutrino death ray blasters! ha ha!!

love to all

mike

(belated) thoughts from a new city

Alright, I’m a lazy globber blogger. i’ll admit it readily. below is a message that was distributed a while ago. don’t hate me for publishing it.

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hello far flung friends, relatives and people that I might have met at a party somewhere..

excuse the mass email format – just think of it as your own personal little message from me.. or not..

new york is the shit! it is soooo coool!! and soooo expensive!! aaarrgh!! there are so many awesome shops, things to do, people to see, things to eat – everything – it just makes you want to be a capitalist piggie!!!

I arrived on saturday morning after enduring a 17 and a half hour night flight, it’s all night, so just when you expect the sun to rise, it stays black.. very sucky. we had our own little entertainment systems – which was quite cool, and the time passed pretty quickly after watching a couple of movies and chatting to the christian missionaries from zanzibar who’d invaded the flight..

we got off to a rollicking start and after the seemingly endless night, I made a deal with them to let me sit at the window seat for the touchdown in new york. what a useless view that was. atlantic ocean, then eastern seaboard – like little bits of crappy coastline, then lots of little boxy houses, some mansions, and then the airport. I was so disappointed. didn’t even see manhattan skyline or anything. phoey. slept about all of two hours on the plane.

spent the first day – saturday – hanging out with Simon and Suyen (my mildly suffering hosts – big ups to Andy) who took me to this amazing vegan / vegetarian restaurant where they make every single thing on the menu with the most amazing soya stuff I have ever tasted. It was brilliant – we had like cajun chicken to start, and then I had black pepper encrusted beef with teriyaki sauce. You don’t understand how yummy it was – it was amazing. I can’t describe it more – the textures were unreal – I’ve never tasted anything like it. And another thing – I could finally eat anything on the menu!! ha ha!

afterwards we walked around washington square park where we checked this guy with a ‘I’m with schizo shirt’ who was performing some mesmerising street theatre, balancing bicycles on his chin, juggling knives upside down and the like. also checked out some old hippies playing speed chess and a lot of black homey drug dealers..

we ended up drinking margaritas at this mexican place across the road from simon’s place when my biological clock caught up with me and showed me who was boss. Luckily I managed to stumble across the road into bed before my world came to a grinding halt..

sunday was more chilled, went for a run in the morning along the harbour and saw the world’s largest procession of harley davidson breakfast thugs slowly idle past. it took them about 45 minutes just to drive past us, there must have been around 5000 enthusiasts ranging from the die-hard live-the-harley-dream types to your average schmo who’s just discovered that he can have fun with both hands at the same time..

if there’s one thing I can say about NY, manhattan in particular – its like you see in sex in the city – only a few hundred times more intense. on that note, the stars of sex in the city are regarded as demigods, being seen as living the new york dream and consequently idolised. it’s pretty common to see shops posting huge signs like “Thanks to our star customer and wonderful friend – Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex in the City” or advertising themselves in an upcoming episode. Indeed, started watching the new season on sunday night and its turned into a bit of a commercial with krispy kreme donuts and fedex deliverymen the subject of the show… oh well it was inevitable I guess..

yesterday I finally took a walk to the place which I signed up for – NYU. the NYU campus isn’t really a campus in the sense that most of us are used like a closed off area like Wits or UCT – its more like a sprawling collection of about 45 buildings all located in the same 40 block radius.. and don’t be fooled by those evil dinky maps you see at home – most self-respecting blocks in manhattan are a good km or two long…

The main area of NYU is set around Washington Square – and it’s beautiful.. also they are extremely organized – I suppose I shouldn’t really be amazed – but it�s a nice change. My school – Tisch is actually just off Broadway and was preparing for new admissions. I went up and saw some really great student and professor projects – like greg shakar’s lightning organ – which generates notes by using eletrical sparks across these huge tuning fork things – and danny rozin’s wooden mirror – which acts as a regular mirror by moving small little wooden panels to create an image..

afterwards, caught the subway uptown to 48th street, where I gawked in utter amazement at the enormous ads urging you to go see Anne Heche’s latest broadway show or check out FCUK. I am nursing a strained neck and severely damaged ankles after tripping over myself so many times. laugh if you will, but I dare you to be nonchalant when you hit broadway or times square for the first time..

ended up meeting an ex-south african in the lower east side, then checking out this great free jazz band at Frank’s in Brooklyn, they were great, but I’ve never really seen a band which has drums, hammond organ and two lead saxophones.. hmm..

and that is that for the moment – its about 9 in the morning here – about three in the arvie your time and although I have just woken up, I feel like I have been gang raped by a herd of extremely horny bull elephants so I think I need to take some guronsan..

love to all

[:]michael sharon
[:]signatureless… again