Today in Düsseldorf starts my sister’s and my Great European Road Trip. I arrived at 10 am after leaving Atlanta at 6 pm. I fought to stay awake while we walked around the city. We visited & caught up. We took funny photos in this bubble tea bar.
Today my friends and I bouldered and swam at Obed. We climbed Show Me Your Biceps (V2) and tried Popeye (V3). If it would have been a bit drier we could have gotten Popeye. The slopers at the end were very damp. We took a group photo with the self timer. After climbing we got a beer at Lilly Pad. The woman in red had just passed her citizenship test, so everyone celebrated as she recited the Oath of Citizenship. With the recent bike and hike, and then today I am really liking multi-sport outdoor days.
Today my friends and I celebrated the 4th by casually biking through Knoxville as part of Jazzer-thighs. The whole event had a very RABGRAI vibe. Everyone was chill, crazy, and ready to party. I brought my camera and Fuji Superia 400.
Today I saw the last few laps of the USA Cycling US PRO Road Championships in Knoxville, TN. The winner, Alex Howes, biked 120 miles in 4:37:05 with 11.220 feet of climbing.
Today I went by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to see Ginkgo Bioworks’ most recent art project, Resurrecting the Sublime. Ginkgo presented this work at SEED 2019, so I had to see it before I left. Ginkgo currently has a push to make GMOs more widely understood and thus hopefully more accepted. The purpose of this art project was to share synthetic biology with the broader public outside the context of research (which can be esoteric & difficult to understand) and consumer products (which can have negative connotations).
Cooper Hewitt was having an exhibition titled Nature focused on understanding and using natural elements in design. The drawings are by Plate, Odontoglossum Grande, Paxton’s Magazine of Botany, and Register of Flowering Plants, vol. 8, 1841. This reminded me of Ernst Haeckel’s Art Forms in Nature which I almost bought at the Met. There was a dress designed by AnotherFarm and made from silk genetically engineered to contain a green fluorescent protein. Textured concrete panels to encourage the growth of moss and lichen designed by Marcos Cruz, Richard Beckett and Javier Ruiz. The building was Andrew Carnegie’s Mansion on Fifth Avenue and the chandelier is original, from Tiffanys and made with turtle shells. There were other tortoise shells and products on display. These reminded me of Pembient’s effort to 3D print keratin to make artificial rhino horns to meet demand without harming rhinos. Now, all ‘tortoise shell’ sunglasses are now made with cellulose acetate. Is there space to make an artificial, but chemically identical, tortoise shell products?
Along the theme of nature inspired products I tried an Impossible Taco for lunch. It is a plant based meat alternative, and it tasted just like meat. Though one of the things I like about meat alternatives, like bean burgers, is that they can have their own more varied flavors.
I am still struggling with properly exposing my photos. The light meter in the Nikon FE is center weighted. This means the exposure is biased (60/40) towards properly exposing whatever is in the center of the frame. This works well for images that have relatively uniform light intensity (eg mountains on a clear day). However it does not work well with large dynamic ranges between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights.
In this image of Shelby she is in the sunlight while behind her are trees in the shadows. The exposure is correct according to the center weighted TTL meter, through I would have preferred Shelby to be less overexposed even at the expense of crushed details in the shadows (which are blurred anyway).
The same effect can be seen in these two images in New York. The sky between the rail way structure is blown out as is the light between the leaves on Park Avenue. Even though the photos have overexposed sections they have a dreamy look to them.
Midtown was quite clean. It had the feel of the monolithic buildings in the backgrounds of Akira (and Awaken Akira), Ghost in the Shell, and Blade Runner. Though it does not have much of the dystopian/cyberpunk elements the buildings are all large, square, uniform, and gray. Crazy to wonder how much money flows through each building every day.
The SEED 2019 conference was near Billionaires’ Row. Hard to imagine people spending >$5 million to live here. Maybe it is nicer so high in the air.
I ran along the high line after the conference yesterday. Today I walked along it as the sun set.
This week I am presenting a poster at the SEED 2019 conference. Outside of the conference I had some time to explore the city. As soon as I landed I went to Central Park (the only bit of nature near the city). The park is pretty, and it is easy to get lost in its winding trails. Central Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a landscape architect who also designed spaces at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
In general the city was beautiful and energizing when considered as a whole/at a distance, but lost its magic when in the thick of things. The more abstact the city was the more beautiful it was. The glitter, the hustle, the energy, the scale is all inspiring and attractive, but it was overshadowed by the ugly. The whole city is crowded and dirty. It smells like urine and hot trash. The city traps heat during the day and radiates it into the night. Cool breezes are rare. It takes forever to get anywhere (by subway, car, or walking). It is not for me but fun to visit.