4 Things That Set My Brain On Fire: June

Dragon capsule, manufactured by Space-X
Dragon capsule, manufactured by Space-X

It’s not for lack of material that I haven’t done a “4 Things” post since my big announcement in February. I’ve been living in between two cities since then, and working on the book a lot, so it’s been tough to consistently write for BLCKSMTH. But I think I’ve reached an equilibrium, and saw 4 amazing things recently that gave my creativity a boost (click here to check out previous “4 Things” posts). Here are this month’s, in no particular order:

1) SpaceX! Wow, I had no idea what I was in for. A new friend, Meharban, showed me the SpaceX warehouse in Hawthorne, CA. SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, who gave a really excellent TED interview a few months ago (ya know, the guy who also invented PayPal and Tesla Motors? Yeah, that guy). As we entered the vast front office space, Meharban gestured casually over to a large open cubicle: “Oh, Elon’s here today.” OH HOLY SHIT, ELON’S HERE my brain shouted as I nodded casually, noting the intense man hunched over his monitor.

View of the warehouse floor
View of the warehouse floor

Then he led me to the warehouse floor. Massive structures dominated the space, punctuated by focused men and women going about their work. It was a little daunting to be so close to structures that would someday go into space. There was a Dragon capsule (pictured at the top of this post) suspended in midair near the employee kitchen area. It was pretty inspiring. Although none of my own fiction reflects it, I’m a huge fan of science fiction and speculative fiction, and seeing the environment where such cutting-edge technology is made was mind blowing.

2) Soundforge at The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR, is a multimedia installation that engages the observer to pick up one of a series of hand-crafted wooden mallets, and strike a sculptural rack of metal pieces.

Soundforge, at the Museum of Contemporary Craft
Soundforge, at the Museum of Contemporary Craft

Each is tuned to compliment the prerecorded musical score that’s playing in the room. In this way, the museum-goer completes the composition. Anyone who knows me already knows that I’m a huge fan of interactive art, and since Soundforge strongly represents blacksmithing themes, it was a no-brainer that this was gonna turn me on. Runs through September 21, 2013.

3) Yes, another TEDtalk. No, I’m not trying to sound smart by telling you I watch them. This one’s a great, short one from David Kelley that I stumbled across about building your creative confidence. Guided mastery. Try not to giggle when he tells you to touch the snake.

4) James Turrell at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For nearly fifty years, James Turrell has been experimenting with ideas of light, perception, and space, and this large retrospective cuts a wide cross-section through his work. He often saturates an entire room, or projects a specific geometric shape, with a single color, and the experience is as much about the visitor’s perception as it is the artist’s intention.

Concept of an upcoming James Turrell installation at the Guggenheim
Concept of an upcoming James Turrell installation at the Guggenheim

A piece worth checking out is one of his Perpetual Cells series: visitors enter a large, boiler-type structure on a sliding slab and are completely immersed in color-saturated light. It sounds like the opposite of a sensory deprivation chamber…a sensory overload chamber? It was booked solid the day I went, make an appointment early if you want to experience this Perpetual Cell. Runs through April 6, 2014.

So, eyes wide open and imagination in overdrive, I got back to creating.

 

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