Written by Jason Beck on June 18, 2016, 7:07pm
What were your favorite moments at ITP Camp so far? I was really enjoying teaching my game design class. I really like seeing people come together to make something totally new out of a system of rules. I’ve also had a lot of fun learning new things, creative modes of thinking, and expressions from different people in different fields.
What’s your latest passion? What I’m really excited about from ITP is inflatables. I’m taking some classes on how to make mylar sculptures basically out of air. I think they’re really cool -- they’re really useful because I like to pack things down and travel a lot, and I think that that’s a pretty neat way to make sculptures. I already know how to make interactive lights and how to make pressure sensors work, so I feel like a large inflatable model that people can interact with would be a really neat project.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever made? I think my favorite thing that I’ve ever made was the maker space I ran back in Toronto for four years, it still has a really warm place in my heart. The favorite actual object I’ve made are my large kinetic flowers that break a lot and they fall apart a lot, but they also make terrifying clacking noises so they’re very fun to build interactive spaces in because they make loud unexpected noises and also represent biology and the way we think about nature as being a thing that’s controllable.
Why did you enjoy reading The Mushroom At The End Of The World, by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing?
Oh man, The Mushroom at the End of the World is the best book. You really really really should read it. I like reading it because I recognize that we live in a period of time where lots of ways that we used to run systems aren’t working anymore. They’re not a thing that can be continued. They’re not sustainable and The Mushroom at the End of the World is a beautiful piece of environmental philosophy about logging and about mushrooms that are very valuable in Japan that only grow in areas that have been devastated by mass logging and clearcutting and forest fires that have never had broadleaf tree renewal. They only grow in terrible soil and in landscapes that look absolutely gross to human eyes and they’re very valuable and it’s about how people survive in environments that appear to offer nothing. There are a lot of essays in it about what freedom means and what freedom means in an environment of mass capital and it’s a really beautiful meditation on what all those things mean together. It’s also a much more interesting way of thinking about political philosophy than any other book I’ve read recently. If I were to recommend another book with it, it would be Addiction by Design by Natasha Schull who is here at NYU. But I really think The Mushroom at the End of the World is one of the most optimistic ways to live in a broken environment.
Any advice to future campers? I would say that you should take a class that’s full of something that you don’t expect to benefit from. Avoid the classes that you feel will make you professionally competent and take the classes that seem interesting that you think might make your creative practice better. You have a month. You’re not going to master a new skill. What you are going to do is maybe think about a new thing in a new way and that will carry you forward all winter long.
Watch video for more responses from Alex: https://vimeo.com/171238451