Update from Dunedin Youth Map

Work has begun with Tahuna Normal Intermediate on the Dunedin Youth Map.  The aim of this project is to link the project into the Year 7 curriculum.  Room 15 who were part of the initial programme have been working on locating reference points for the map. The school art teacher is primed and ready to go with the creation of the map and the students have worked on their own icons.  A refinement of the icons since the presentation in August has begun. The students have been compiling the websites and information for their areas they are focused on and have shared with their class teacher as Google Docs.  Debate has begun over whether to include names and addresses of restaurants because Dunedin has a large number of eateries.

The project has been halted at present due to the school receiving funding for a digital technology project which is in conjunction with a local secondary school and primary school. This project focuses on the students building and monitoring moisture in their homes and properties in South Dunedin. The development of the map might form part of the six tech option next year as it links into our climate change unit and the project the school has been funded for. The other reason the project has been halted is that the DCC liaison person said the term "green" might have negative connotations so we are unsure whether to proceed using the green map icons or stick with our own.

Aim for next year:

  • In conjunction with the school's climate change and sustainability units, have the students complete the map.
  • Art teacher to create the map and icon development.
  • Tech time to develop the spreadsheet of source information.
  • Completion date ready to take to DCC for publication or to the Green Map by July 1st, 2017.

Come meet this year’s American Arts Incubator artists and learn about the program on Wednesday, January 11th from 6:00pm-8:00pm at CounterPulse in San Francisco.

Enjoy refreshments and light hor d'oeuvre while getting to know Elaine Cheung, Scott Kildall, Michael Kuetemeyer, Nathan Ober, and Balam Soto. Learn about each artist's practice, exchange location and social issue to be addressed, the artist's proposed approach and project concepts, and more about the American Arts Incubator program.

The deadline to apply for the 2017-18 American Arts Incubator is Sunday, January 15th. For more information about the open call, visit the ZERO1 Request for Qualifications page.

American Arts Incubator is an international arts exchange program developed by ZERO1 in partnership with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program uses digital and new media to promote cross-cultural collaboration, increase awareness, and provide innovative solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges. These artists will travel to their assigned countries for four weeks to develop public art projects. During such time the artists will lead workshops to teach specific skills, develop project ideas with community participants, and execute a small grant program to fund the development of community driven art projects.

Learn More:

DATE: January 11, 2017
TIME: 6:00pm-8:00pm Drinks & Networking

WHERE: CounterPulse, 80 Turk Street, San Francisco

This event is free and open to the public, but we'd love to know you are coming. Please RSVP on Eventbrite.

Calling innovative new media and digital artists who have a love of travel and passion for community-driven art.

Apply to participate in the 2016-17 American Arts Incubator.

We are excited to open the next round of applications for the following participating overseas locations: Ecuador, Egypt, India, Morocco, Poland, and Ukraine. One artist will be selected for each location and will be responsible for creating a public art project, leading a workshop, and overseeing a unique small grants program that funds local participant teams to create community-driven art that addresses a social or environmental challenge relevant to their community.
 The deadline to apply is: Sunday, January 15, 2017, 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time.

Learn more about criteria and application requirements on the Request for Qualifications guidelines page.

American Arts Incubator is an international arts exchange program developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This program sends artists abroad to collaborate with youth and underserved populations on community-based digital and new media projects that bolster local economies, address a local social issue, and further social innovation. Artists will be working directly with ZERO1, U.S. embassy officials, and overseas partners to realize a series of public art projects that cultivate individual and community engagement and citizenship internationally.


This past weekend marked the end of our workshops and the distribution of our community small grants. On Saturday, at the Otago Museum, we heard from community groups about local issues ranging from sea level rise, to erosion, to neighborhood resiliency, to light pollution, to geologic time scales of climate change.

Shedding some light

"Shedding Some Light" dark skies community project presentation. Photo by Beth Ferguson.

Four project proposals were selected to receive small grants and be developed further in the next two weeks. All project concepts are relevant to climate issues facing Dunedin and the surrounding Otago region. All four of the projects have larger communities and experts that they are drawing on for resources, ideas, and longevity plans. We were impressed with their grasp of the short- and long-term plans for the project. We’re excited to see the projects take shape for the exhibition. The four projects are:

  • Bones and Stones: a “field guide” for New Zealand geology, including two enlarged “core samples” showing the geologic long-view of the environment.

  • Shedding Some Light: a project that examines the proposed lighting solutions for high-efficiency street lighting and “dark skies” proposals for the town to be able to enjoy the Aurora Australis by limiting light pollution.

  • Youth Community Map: focusing on climate change resiliency and vulnerable sites near the Tahuna School in South Dunedin.

  • Living Map: a data-enabled relief map of the Dunedin area for community conversation about the past, present, and future geography of this vulnerable coastal city.

The projects will be exhibited, along with the work we produced during our time in Dunedin, at the Otago Museum August 5-22.

This weekend we started a series of community workshops at Otago Museum. Yesterday we kicked things off by discussing and mapping the various climate resources and threats in the Dunedin area. We learned a lot from the community about the bay, its estuaries, and mining history as we located areas of preservation and vulnerability. Dunedin is a fascinating convergence of urban and natural forces, in a picturesque setting. It was exciting for us to learn more about the historical context of a city that has taken shape over the last 200 years.

Workshop LED

Workshop participants working with LEDs. Photo courtesy of Beth Ferguson.

We will continue to conduct public workshops over the next six days with community members, university students, and museum guests that will look at the city through various climate lenses, including environmental sensing, aerial photography, coastal mapping, and iconography.

Workshop whiteboard

Brainstorming data sources and visualization types. Photo courtesy of Beth Ferguson.

Meanwhile, we are learning so much about the local animal life and natural setting from the staff of the museum. We were given a tour of their collection of New Zealand land birds, including the extinct Moa, during which they explained the changing understanding of the bird’s stature over the last hundred years, from that of an upright ostrich to that of a kiwi with a low stance. Discussing science as an evolving understanding of the past is helpful for us as we think about how to work in the changing environmental conditions of the present.

To learn more, we recommend checking out the New Zealand Ministry of Environment’s Climate Change Projections for the Otago Region.

We are headed to New Zealand and have a huge week of events ahead of us in the wonderful South Island city of Dunedin. We are joining the Dunedin community in the midst of the country’s annual science festival (SciFest), in which we will be participating through two presentations and our ZERO1 American Arts Incubator workshop series. The festival this year is appropriately focused on Climate Change and Women in Technology. It’ll be a great way for us to learn about the local community's interests and concerns in climate science. We are looking forward to an educational and fun week as we hit the ground for our month-long cultural exchange.

Wednesday, July 13th we will be presenting an introduction to our work at a PechaKucha-style event, “What Inspires Me: Women in Science”. And Thursday we are giving a public artist talk “Tools and Fieldwork in the face of Climate Change." These two presentations, along with our access to other talks and events through SciFest, will be invaluable tools for us as we head into our community workshop this weekend.

Alongside the SciFest, we are also busy this week setting up our studio space in Gallery 1877 in Otago Museum, where we will be conducting our workshops and working this month in preparation for our Climate Kit exhibit. The staff of the museum already have been invaluable in orienting us to the community and region. We are thrilled to settle-in there.

We are honored to be included in this festival, to learn from so many scientists and educators working on these topics, and to be hosted by such an amazing institution as the Otago Museum. And we can't wait to update you on how it's all developing in coming days!

Guest blog post by project photographer, Yen Nguyen.

Over dinner one evening, I talked to my husband and our two sons about an LGBTQ art project I was about to engage in. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) are terms we all are familiar with, even for our boys aged 15 and 11, however we couldn't work out a definition of “queer."

More Than Love on the Horizon is the art project originated by Vietnamese American artist Erin O’Brien, who identifies herself as queer. The project aims to increase the visibility of the Vietnamese LGBTQ community through the use of digital media art. Prior to this project, I didn’t even know that the “Q” had become the fifth initial and an integral part of the community.

In Erin’s artist talk, the first project activity, she explained her queer identity and what's Really Queer or Queerly Real about her art, which is mostly performance based and dedicated to enhance social justice for the LGBTQ community. As the project’s other activities unfolded, it was clear that she wanted to experiment using these art practices with members of the LGBTQ community in Ha Noi.

Erin O'Brien gives an artist talk. Photo by Yen Nguyen.

Erin O'Brien gives her artist talk at Nha San Collective. Photo by Yen Nguyen.

I was amazed by Erin’s energy and ability to engage the young participants in different activities - from a creative workshop, to shooting hologram videos, to proposing their own projects. Her ‘craziness’ is contagious. She managed to get them doing many things, like running around, shouting, laughing, posing, dancing and acting, some of which they are not used to or probably never been exposed to.

Video shoot

Hologram video shoot. Photo by Yen Nguyen.

Comedy on set

Laughter erupts on set. Photo by Yen Nguyen.

Erin needed translation while doing the activities. She admitted she can understand words in Vietnamese as long as they are related to food because of years eating Vietnamese food which, by the way, she can cook, too. She could cook for a family several weeks in a row without repeating any dishes, and apparently, she cooks for her dogs back home in LA. Before coming to Vietnam to work on this project, she filled the freezer with her homemade food; enough for her dog to eat for all the weeks she is away. Erin also expresses her art in the culinary realm by creating her own artisanal sausages with recipes inspired by her family and friends’ stories, under the brand "Meat My Friends."

Despite her limitation in Vietnamese comprehension, I saw that Erin could understand LGBTQ stories before they were even translated, particularly while we were shooting for the holograms. She laughed, she cheered, and she cried as individuals shared with her their emotional stories. Stories that demonstrated the clear need for Erin’s work, even when there have been remarkable recent achievements in increasing LGBTQ visibility in Vietnam.

After just a few days of working with her on her project, I began to understand Erin's queerness. I felt comfortable explaining to our sons: “Queer is simply being different, and it is okay to call people queer."

I write this from the plane en route to Hanoi to kick off the Vietnam Arts Incubator program. As with all pre-production, just when you think you have everything together, some things fall apart. I have the most amazing producer on the ground handling the details, like securing translators, a production assistant, a director of photography, and location scouting. Some things fell apart before I got on the plane but, when I land, I know everything will all fall together.

My carry-on handbag is full of electronics — iPads, tablets, iPhones, Androids, and a couple Kindles. I spent the past few days driving around Los Angeles trading 2 gallons of homemade kombucha, sea salt caramels, and my goodwill for the use of these electronics for our exhibition at Nha San Collective at the end of the month.

Tablets, iPhones, iPads, and Androids, 2016. Photo by G. E. O'Brien.

Electronics, 2016. Photo by G. E. O'Brien.

I’m excited to put these to use in the exhibition as displays for the holograms we will create. Gallery visitors also will be able to pull up the hologram videos on their own devices from our website. The DIY hologram projectors convert smartphones and tablets into mini hologram projectors, making visible the Vietnamese LGBTQ community in Hanoi.

Before I left Los Angeles, I prototyped a smaller, lighter DIY hologram projector for the project. These new prototypes are made with overhead transparency paper and can be cut more precisely and faster using scissors instead fighting the CD case plastic with an exacto blade. This new DIY hologram projector is lighter, pliable, and portable and can be made in less than 5 minutes.

DIY hologram projector instructional video, 2016. Photo by G. E. O'Brien.

As soon as I touch down, I will have to start running. The enthusiasm for the Vietnam Arts Incubator project has been demonstrable. I’m beside myself knowing that there are over 40 LGBTQ participants registered for the workshops I will be facilitating. Glancing through the registrations there are gays, lesbians, queer identified, and a few transgender participants. I’m learning new terms and surprised how many folks identify as queer.

Gay - Đồng tính nam

Lesbian - Đồng tính nữ

Bisexual - Song tính

Transgender - Người chuyển giới

Queer – Queer

Participant breakdown

Workshop participant response to a question about how they identify.

I am hoping that the workshops will be not only engaging and transformative for the participants but also generative. Out of this week of workshops, participants will develop projects that creatively engage LGBTQ visibility and equality in Vietnam using a digital media platform. Four of these proposals will be the recipients of small grants to carry out their own projects.

Meanwhile, I will be filming participants and community members to create holograms. We have to do this all very quickly because, as it turns out, in order to put all the work in the April 22nd exhibition we have to get all the finished projects submitted to government censors a week before they’re made public.

Update: I have landed in Hanoi and would you believe, unbeknownst to me, the apartment we are staying at is called “Rainbow Building.” Serendipity!

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