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