SFPC: Day 01 - Orientation

Today was our first day at SFPC.

Let me start from the beginning, which is actually Sunday, the day before class began.

On Sunday, I went to the Pioneer Works Second Sundays monthly party and had a blast. Ran into a few friends, new and old, saw a great band, had a few drinks, walked around inside a massive inflatable, met artist, Sam Lavigne, as well as Dave Sheinkopf, who runs the tech lab on the third floor of Pioneer Works.

Here’s a view from outside, at the beginning of the event:

Panorama from the top of a three-story structure in Pioneer Works' backyard

Here’s a view from the inside:

Outside the giant inflatable at Pioneer Works Second Sundays

Inside the giant inflatable at Pioneer Works Second Sundays

Palled around until 10pm, and then they kicked us out.

Rode my bike home from Red Hook to Ditmas Park. Got home, got ready for bed, tucked myself in and I-Just-Could-Not-Sleep!

So I was tired in the morning and actually woke up early as well(must’ve been excited or something, although mostly I just felt tired).

Ditmas Park is at least an hour away from Greenwich Village, by bike or train or bus. Too far for any sane person to bike on Monday morning. So I was to choose from either the F train, which was experiencing “significant delays” or the bus. I packed my lunch, laced my boots, and headed for the bus stop.

I get to the bus to find out that it’s a $6.50 express bus that takes you up the highway, into the Financial District. I didn’t request my stop in time so I ended up getting off at around 30th street and 3rd avenue.

I walked from there to Greenwich Village in about an 40 minutes. I’d estimate 20-25 blocks.

As I was walking up the street, there’s a guy in front of me, walking in the same direction, wearing a really cool blue Northface jacket, an equally dope corduroy bucket hat, and an also-dope grey space-age fabric designer backpack.

It’s about 9:30am and as I arrive at the entrance he’s standing there, pondering whether to go in.

“Hi, are you going to SFPC?”, I ask the man. “Yes! SFPC! I am Hiro.”

I introduce myself and suggest we backtrack to go get coffee, as I felt like, after my epic commute, I was dying from a lack of caffeine.

We walk, chatting, getting acquainted. Hiro lives in Tokyo, in the Shibuya district. I gush effusively about Japan. We buy our coffees and I am very glad to have something warm and energizing to drink.

We get to class and we are the 2nd and 3rd students there. Taeyoon is sitting at the head of the table. Hiro and I introduce ourselves to Jason, seated to our left.

More students start to trickle in, we introduce ourselves. I finally get to meet Baku, who I will be rooming with in Bed Stuy, along with Dannie and Agustin. We have been corresponding for the past few weeks to coordinate and book our Airbnb for the length of the SFPC session.

I’d been hanging out with Agustin since last week, and had known Dannie from ITP Camp in June, so I was glad to finally meet the fourth member of our temporary household.

Taeyoon brought the class to attention. We went around the room and introduced ourselves. I was glad to meet Robby Kraft, who is TAing for Taeyoon and is also from Dallas, TX. Texas people always seem to find each other in NYC and I haven’t formulated a theory as to why that is, yet. I was glad to make his acquaintance.

Taeyoon asked us to cut large sheets of butcher paper and to answer three questions:

  • What do you want SFPC to be?
  • What do you hope to learn at SFPC?
  • What do you hope to make at SFPC?

He gave us 20 minutes and I took my work outside. I was sunny and cool. Very nice weather, San Francisco weather.

We posted our sheets and conversed and read each others’ answers. A very diverse range of interests.

Taeyoon asked us what answers we had in common, even if it was just with one other person. An interest in music seemed to be a constant in the group. AI and Deep Learning was another. Live coding, Katrina(classmate) was interested in and Ruby(also classmate)suggested checking out a group called Algorave that does cool things with music and live coding. Baku and I are both interested in video production. Bryan and Medhir(more classmates) were interested in working with microorganisms and electricity.

After that, Taeyoon said he had a surprise for us, but that we’d have to wait.

The school was nice enough to order lunch for us, but it actually was delayed in getting there, so we got our surprise early - it was a trip to the roof of the Westbeth building!

Panorama of the view from the top of the Westbeth building

It was an incredible view. I hope to spend some time up there and maybe even take my parents there when they come to visit.

We came back to class and our guest for the day showed up, Mushon Zer Aviv, who is a designer, educator, and media activist who works the mediums of data, networks, and culture. It was a treat because I was actually lucky enough to attend a workshop about thinking about networks creatively that Mushon gave with Ingrid Burrington and Surya Mattu at Eyebeam the previous Saturday.

Our food arrived and everyone eventually sorted whose burrito was whose and we moved outside to sit in the courtyard of Westbeth. I spoke with Mushon and asked him questions about what other arts + tech scenes are like around the world and he was kind enough to converse with me and answer my questions. For instance, apparently Sarajevo has a very active civic-hacking community, as does Istanbul.

When we came back from lunch, Mushon was a robot. For future attendees of SFPC, I don’t want to spoil the group activity, but I will share a picture. We had a good time.

Mushon is a robot.

After that, we went back to the class room and had a discussion about learning. Mushon posed the question, “If you could learn anything instantly, what would be good about that process and what would be bad about it?”.

The class concluded that learning is an iterative process, strewn with mistakes along the way. The mistakes give the learning meaning, an emotional connection. One student posited that a surge of a massive amount of information might damage the brain, that maybe the brain could not structurally handle too much information at once.

Mushon said goodbye, and Taeyoon went through some housekeeping. We signed liability waivers and were given keys to the space, which was something I was not expecting. Each student has 24-hour access, and we were encourage to treat the school as a shared studio space, which is really, really neat.

Everyone was pretty tired by the end of the day, especially Taeyoon, who had just come back from Seoul, I believe. Other campers were still a bit jet-lagged as well.

All in all a great first day. I took notes on paper but I intend to take more pictures and to use audio and video to document my time at SFPC.

Looking forward to tomorrow, which is a “bootcamp” with Ida C. Benedetto.


Written on October 10, 2016