21 June 2017

Virtual Tour of the "Pink House" by @TheMostFamousArtist #impermanenceart #socialcivilian #MRadArchitecture #helloSaturn

“The impact of my art can only be measured by the discussion it stimulates,” so says Matty Mo aka “The Most Famous Artist.”

Queue Mo’s latest work that's come to be known as the "Pink House", an advertisement-cum-art installation in Los Angeles that utilizes a construction development site as a temporary canvas.  It's comprised of three single-family homes slated for demolition that has been painted a screaming shade of Pepto-Bismol pink.

Visit the Pink House on Google Maps

Mo describes it as an “ephemeral conceptual art project”  with a  “jumping off point for a conversation about community, development, public art, and social media" but so far the conversation has been pretty mixed.

According to news reports, local residents are complaining about the noise and crowds that have come to take photos, shoot music videos and create all sorts of digital content to share on the Interwebz.

The LAist decried the project as a PR stunt called “Pink River Rosé” a collaboration between Mo and Nomadica Wine, a new L.A.-based canned-wine.

M-Rad Architecture is claiming a piece of the pink by calling the project "iMpermanence." (M-Rad is the firm that behind the  45-unit apartment complex that will be built on the site.)

And, Social Civilian, a clothing company, is associated with the project as well.

As millennials come in droves to post selfies on Instagram from the Pink House, I’m still left to ponder the piece.

Here’s my takeaway: Is it art? You bet. And I take no issue with the fact that it’s sponsored art.  Heck, if athletes can be sponsored, why not artists?  The main issue and the question I ask myself: is it good art? To me: no. Not only were living plants harmed by being directly painted on, but some fine examples of Spanish Revival architecture were defaced in the name of art and will ultimately be lost forever in LA.

14 April 2017

"La Medusa" in 360 by El Mac and David Choe - Phoenix, Arizona

Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo) is a walkable, creative district in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona. At the Cobra Arcade Bar you'll find this gem of a mural entitled "La Medusa" painted by internationally renowned street artists El Mac (a.k.a. Miles MacGregor) and David Choe.

"La Medusa"

07 April 2017

“2001: A Space Odyssey” at the 14th Factory

Put on your Google Cardboard and check out the iconic bedroom from Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”.  Artist Simon Birch and architect Paul Kember collaborated to recreate the set as part of an installation entitled ‘The Barmecide Feast’ at the 14th Factory, a new art space in Los Angeles. This exhibit runs indefinitely based on demand so hurry! Keir Dullea, gone tomorrow!

09 October 2016

Last Night's Proto Awards in Hollywood

Hellooooo, e'erbody. It's been awhile, I know.  Let's catch up!

Since my last post, I've been working on a project for Amazon Studios that has recently wrapped. It's been wonderful, but unfortunately, there's been no time for working on my panoramas. Now that my job is finished, I have a backlog of VR images to process and upload. Wait for it.  They'll be coming soon!

Last night was the Proto Awards, an event produced by the Virtual Reality Foundation to reward individuals and teams making strides in the field of virtual reality. The event took place at the Avalon in Hollywood, blocks away from where the first Oscars (May 16, 1929, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel) and Emmys ceremonies (January 25, 1949, at the Hollywood Athletic Club) took place.

Shane Nilsson, Coal Car Studio
Shane Nilsson - Proto Award Winner for "Fruit Golf"

My friends from Coal Car Studios were up for their game "Fruit Golf" and won! Coal Car Studios are a team of two brothers -- Shane and Tyler Nilsson -- from Canada whom I met when we all spoke on the social VR panel at the "Future Trends In Stereoscopic Filmmaking & Virtual Reality" summit in Beijing late last year. Since Tyler was unable to make the ceremony, I got to be a +1 at the table. The photo above is Shane Nilsson accepting the award.

Proto Award Winners 2016
Proto Award winners (left to right): Shane Nilsson "Fruit Golf" - Best Student Experience;  E McNeill "Tactera" - Best Mobile Experience; Bruce Wooden "Altspace VR" - Best Social Experience; David Whelan "Apollo 11 VR" - Most Transportive Experience; Lee Vermeulen "Alientrap" - Best User Interface

We seemed to have been seated in good company at the Winners Table because as you can see, five recipients took home a Proto.

Shane gave a succinct and sweet acceptance speech that even MC Ron Funches had something positive to say. But the quote of the night was when, as we were headed back to our cars after the event was over Shane remarked, "Wow. I win this award and suddenly all these girls start talking to me."

Ron Funches
Give it up for MC / Host of the Proto Awards Ron Funches 

As I mentioned, the Master of Ceremonies / Host of the 2016 Proto Awards was comedian, nerd and actor Ron Funches, known for his roles on NBC's "Undateable" and the upcoming series "Powerless."  I especially enjoyed connecting with him because he is not only a real emcee, he is smart and hilarious.  It's great to see diversity coming to the VR space!

Tom Furness, Proto Founders Award
Tom Furness, VR pioneer, Professor in the University of Washington Department of 
Industrial & Systems Engineering, and the founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab

The highlight of the evening was when I got to meet Thom Furness III, who was honored with the Founders Award.  Furness has been pioneering virtual and augmented reality for the past 50 years and has come to be known as the "Grandfather of VR."  He started back in 1966 while he was in the Air Force building some of the first helmet-mounted displays. He left the military to head up the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington, which has been doing original research to validate the efficacy of VR in the areas of medicine, education, and training. He also helped invent the virtual retinal display technology in the early 90s, which is being used as some of the basis of Magic Leap’s lightfield display technologies. Today Furness continues to be a virtual reality visionary serving as the Founder of the Virtual World Society.

The Proto awards was a blast. Congratulations to all the winners!

29 March 2016

Toxic Town: Picher, Oklahoma

Less than a 100 years ago the town of Picher in Oklahoma was a mining boomtown producing more than $20 billion in lead and zinc ore from 1917 to 1947. Today, Picher is a hazardous waste site as a result of unregulated mining.

Picher fell to ruins due to toxic waste contaminating the air, soil, and water. What's more, the land is so riddled with tunnels causing sinkholes to swallow up buildings like Godzilla on a rampage.

In 1983, Picher was designated to be part of the Tar Creek Superfund Site by the EPA and identified as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and the environment. Residents who wanted to leave were offered a federal buyout and by 2009, the town's charter was dissolved.

Today the cleanup of Picher is ongoing and expected to take at least 30 years according to Tyler Powell, Deputy Secretary of Environment for the State of Oklahoma.

So far, the federal government has spent approximately $331 million cleaning up the Tar Creek Superfund, making it the largest hazardous-waste site in the nation. The full cleanup is expected to exceed more than $1 billion.

To date, the US government has received repayment settlements from some of the mining companies responsible for the devastation of Picher including ASARCO ($32 million),  Childress Royalty Co. ($810,918) and EaglePicher ($900,000).

In January 2016, a settlement proposed by the U.S. Department of Justice seeks $3.4 million from Doe Run Resources Corp., $6.6 million from NL Industries and $5 million the U.S. Department of Interior. The government is still pursuing cleanup money from the Blue Tee Corp. and the Gold Fields Mining Corp.

Altogether, it is expected that the "responsible parties" will at most contribute $60 million to the cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund. The remainder of the costs will be remediated using taxpayer dollars. That is: the mining companies responsible pay 6.6%, and taxpayers pay 93.4%.

It is interesting to note that in 1950, the Eagle-Picher Mining Co. condemned four square blocks of land that the company owned in Picher's business district due to cave-in dangers that forced out 200 business owners and homeowners.

It's also worth noting that the Tar Creek Superfund is one of several Superfund sites that EaglePicher is linked to including: Eagle Picher Carefree Battery (New Mexico); Oronogo-Duenweg Mining Belt (Missouri);  Cherokee County (Kansas); Eagle-Picher Waste Disposal Areas (Ohio); Newton County Mine Tailings (Missouri), Eagle-Picher Henryetta (Oklahoma); Eagle Zinc (Illinois); and W 'c' St & Porter St (Missouri).

According to Kevin Bogardus at the Center for Public Integrity, "Eagle-Picher Industries Inc. went bankrupt in the 1990s and settled for liability of $41 million to clean up 25 sites and pollution at the company's smelters in Kansas and Missouri, ultimately paying 37% of that, or about $15 million. Yet the government originally claimed it was owed $77 million for just eight sites. The company's reorganized successor, EaglePicher Holdings Inc., went bankrupt [again in 2005] and has not yet resolved the government's $25 million claim for seven sites."

Unlike the town of Picher, the company EaglePicher is resilient, despite filing twice for bankruptcy. In 2014, the company received a $22 million federal contract from the Department of Defense to produce new lithium-ion batteries.

“This award assures EaglePicher will continue to be the leader in advanced lithium-ion technology for defense applications,” noted Randy Moore, President of EaglePicher.

Moore  also says that the company is dedicated to the "Adherence to the principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship through the conservation of energy and natural resources, risk reduction, pollution prevention, material management and recycling."

More recently, photographer Sabrina Staires, has an opening on Friday, April 1st of her solo show “Echo,” a project consisting of 16 silk pieces with images from Picher.  The exhibit runs through the end of May at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City.

22 March 2016

See Inside the Precious Moments Chapel in Virtual Reality

The Precious Moments Chapel, fondly dubbed "America's Sistine Chapel" by many, was created by Sam Butcher, the artist, and creator of the Precious Moments religious giftware company. The entire complex features artworks that depict stories from the Bible.

This virtual tour focuses on 15 stained glass window panels designed by Butcher that flank the chapel's interior.  On the west side, the panels feature the artist's interpretation of the Beatitudes and on the east, the 23 Psalms. Regarding VR photography, they were a challenge to shoot simply because of the various light sources that affected the color balance of the windows in relation to the ambient and artificial light of the space.  

The Precious Moments Chapel, located in Carthage, Missouri, is open to the public almost daily but be sure to check their website for details as the hours is seasonal.  Admission and tours are free.

15 March 2016

The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts in VR

The setting sun illuminates the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts located on the campus of Pittsburg State University. This clean-lined new facility provides first class performing venues for the university’s theater, music, and dance programs, while also giving the town of Pittsburg a performing arts venue suitable for touring artists.

The heart of the building is an 1,100-seat lyric theater with flytower, orchestra pit, and orchestra shell, able to present Broadway musicals, orchestra, chorus, opera, ballet, jazz, and popular music.  A 250-seat drama theater is the primary performance space for the drama department.


13 March 2016

Death Valley Super Bloom 2016 in #VR

Death Valley "Super Bloom" 2016 in #VR.
Click and drag image above

If you're a close up or macro photographer, the Death Valley Super Bloom for 2016 is amazing. For panoramic photography, it's a bit underwhelming as this sweet but subtle phenomenon is swallowed up by a wide lens.

In this shot, a lovely "carpet" of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) can't quite fill the frame in 360. But look to the horizon and you'll see a the floral equivalent of a Milky Way of yellow flowers. Also, while I never observed a "blanket" of Notch Leaf Phacelias, I did see dozens of sphinx moth caterpillars munching on the flower's leaves which are easier to observe close up.

I went out to experience the super bloom yesterday and apparently the phenomenon is in full effect and expected to be for another week or so, according to the ranger I spoke to at Stovepipe Wells Visitor's Information Center who also advised me on the best places to see the wildflowers.

For me, I recommend taking a nice little loop drive up the Beatty Cutoff Road and down Mud Canyon, then back to Furnace Creek along Highway 190.

10 March 2016

Virtual Tour of Miners Memorial - Immigrant Park, Pittsburg, KS

Miner’s Memorial, dedicated in July 2008 pays tribute to the immigrants who settled in Southeast Kansas and worked in the Weir-Pittsburg Coalfields of Cherokee and Crawford Counties.

The Miner’s Memorial features a large bronze statue of an era miner, large black granite monuments with the names inscribed of the miners who worked in the Weir-Pittsburg Coalfields and stone walking path leading past several information kiosks that tell the story and history of the mining industry in Southeast Kansas.

Sattelite View of Miners Memorial on Google Maps
When I was looking for this location on my smartphone, I was surprised it wasn't on Google Maps or Google Maps Street View. So I submitted it and it was immediately accepted.

To see it on Google Maps Street View app, click here (be sure to download the app for your particular device). The app supports VR mode for use with Google Cardboard.

Miners Memorial is seeking family histories of coal miners in Crawford and Cherokee Counties. An estimated 10,000 men worked as miners in the area. People are encouraged to register their mining ancestors as soon as possible. To submit a story, click here.

07 March 2016

Discover the Pittsburg ArtWalk "Your Downtown" Mural located in Pittsburg, Kansas

The Pittsburg ArtWalk in Pittsburg, Kansas has been a local happening since 2005. For 2015 ArtWalk, in collaboration with SEK Art Fest, a completed public art piece entitled "Your Downtown" located at the northwest corner of 5th Street and Broadway was dedicated.  It was so beautiful that I had to photograph it and share with the world on Roundme. I also put it on Google Maps. Both apps have a VR mode for iOS and Android smartphones so get that Google Cardboard on and take a stroll!

The execution of "Your Downtown" was completed in two stages.  In Stage 1, the Pittsburg ArtWalk commissioned six artists to complete a mural on the side of the 501 N Broadway building. Each artist was provided a panel of wall space to complete the theme.

Pittsburg ArtWalk Downtown Mural
Pittsburg ArtWalk Mural 2015

Blank wall, ripe for a mural! Source: Google Maps Street View 2013

Then in Stage 2, ArtWalk obtained a grant from the SEK Art Fest to help complete the second phase of the mural, which is the black and white lettering above the panels that says:
"Pittsburg is your downtown and your voice. Share. Beauty. Love. Fun. Build. Strength. Unite. Joy. Believe. Create. People. Shop local. Help a neighbor. Tip the band. Be kind. Support. Buy art. Hope for. Vision. Live. Peace. Explore. Connect. Our community is a better place because of you!"
All in all, it took seven artists to complete the mural. One even traveled from Omaha, Nebraska to contribute.

The mural was dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony and artists recognition reception on September 11, 2015.

The next Pittsburg ArtWalk for 2016 is slated for April 22. If you're an artist, and you're interested in participating,  ArtWalk is putting out a Call For Artists so be sure to sign up!

Pittsburg ArtWalk would like to thank the following artists, organizers, and sponsors:

  • Kelci Cooper
  • Elizabeth Cosby
  • Camillia Fearmonti
  • Heather L Horton (assisted)
  • Holly Kranker
  • Bryan Lewandowski
  • Amanda Smardo
  • Jenna Spencer

  • Kelci Cooper
  • Kris Hartley
  • Heather L Horton
  • Roger Horton
  • John Kutz

  • 3M
  • CDL Electric
  • JS Kutz Rentals & Construction
  • Pittsburg ArtWalk
  • SEK Art Fest
  • Sweet Designs Cakery
  • TJ Lelands