Open Source Art Encourages Society to Think Inclusively

Kate Reed has a vision for elevating the less talked about parts of ourselves, and of society. Through her art, she wants people to think about a part of themselves that makes them feel invisible, and to anonymously share that with the community around them. The mechanism for this is Invisible, a campaign to place translucent sculptures in public places around the world. The approach that she has taken to the project is very interesting — she’s giving the art away to empower the campaign. Check out her talk from the Hackaday SuperConference.

Kate is studying as part of the Brown/Rhode Island School of Design dual degree program. When conceptualizing Invisible she set some pretty clear goals for herself. It needs to be something that is more than just functional, it must grab the attention of anyone passing by, and upon further inspection, the function needs to be apparent without having to read instructions or be told by other users.

The human body is a great place to start. By nature, our eyes are drawn to other people, so a statue of a person is a natural draw for the eye. To accompany the gist of the campaign she wanted a sculpture that is itself invisible. Clear acrylic serves that purpose, and interesting, as people write their thoughts on paper and drop them into the sculpture it becomes less invisible with each contribution. Neat!

invisible-threaded-thumbTo give the project reach, Kate hopes that Invisible will go viral. The key to this is inclusion — anyone is welcome to download Kate’s design files and build their own. But availability is but one trait that helps deliver access. It must also use easily sourced materials, be inexpensive, strong, and weather resistant for outside use. Laser-cut acrylic serves all of these purposes. To give it strength, the frame is wrapped with plastic wrap, but Kate has also designed a version that uses elastic cord to stitch the pieces together.

The cost to fabricate one sculpture is about $100 and this design meets all of her goals. It makes me think of the Little Free Library project — a welcoming and fun movement where small weather-resistant bookshelves are built and installed throughout the community. It encourages interactions beyond the small sphere of people you regularly interact and builds goodwill throughout the community. Invisible looks to the same benefits, to add something you’ll notice in your daily life while helping to encourage interaction in real life.

56 thoughts on “Open Source Art Encourages Society to Think Inclusively

    1. Pfft what would you know, I’m an Obsurist, Obsurism is the very latest movement in Avant Garde Art! Sure it is a little hard to define, by it’s very nature, but some people have described it as a cross between Zen Buddhism and performance art.

      So you are just a anti-progressive and backward Philistine who needs to get over themselves.

      1. Obsurism is already the establishment, you hack! Real artists are Nullists. The Nullist art style is simply defined as producing absolutely nothing, and as a result the value of such art is massive.

        After writing this comment, I will sit still for half an hour. Fortunately I have a government grant for my art, so I’m basically selling this piece for only $100k of taxpayer money. The true value is much larger, so it’s a real bargain.

  1. Where is this mythical world where everyone has free access to a laser cutter?
    These things cost money to run and money to fix, strolling down to a local hackerspace and them welcoming you with open arms to use and abuse their machine is a fairy-tale surely?
    Maybe you could scrabble together enough acrylic offcuts to make this for 100$ but I wonder how long it takes to sew all the panels together? the real cost would be your sanity and the finished article would certainly not be weatherproof by any measure.
    I wonder how easy it is to read all of those suggestions under an entire roll of cling film. certainly not invisibly by any stretch of the imagination. “what makes you feel invisible” well if that’s your mindset then you are probably beyond help. certainly posting your troubles into a sculpture isn’t going to improve your situation is it?
    the first one I read was “being a woman”. no comment. “my weight” is the opposite of invisible surely? “dogs”???
    does this encourage interactions? with a sculpture perhaps. are you really going to speak to someone about what you are posting? I guess its exactly like the little library in that respect in that unlike a real library you don’t speak to anyone. except to be an official little library you have to pay money whereas this is “”free”” so its slightly different.
    is all art worthless? is this art? is this good? are these even valid questions? I suppose it’s all subjective really.

    but taking up a seat on a public bench is not my idea of inspiring goodwill.

  2. Hackaday needs to design our construct a podium that allow a speaker to make use of a notebook computer and printed material readily. Perhaps it does, but I never been able to notice it because of limited viewing angles Then again she may choosing to hold her print material in this manner because she finds it works best for her I admit about the podium I’m commenting using limited information. What is or isn’t art is rarely universally agreed on, and that’s is much less so for art intentionally deign to serve a function. While I will not being going out to search an application where this could be used, but I’m not enough of a dick to suggest that this or that should receive indirect outside funding. I’m that way because I have read willfully ignorant persons support denying funding for basic research that could save lives or help the injured recover more completely. I have to feel sorry for the women in the lives of those who are too quick to find a reason to dismiss feminism/feminists. In that the many of those who dismiss feminism/feminists don’t have neck bears, it would a bit silly to use neck beard as a pejorative term in that topic. In the end the young woman AFAIK came up with a unique way to try to raise awareness in a variety of issues. How effective it would be in creating participation, and finding solutions remains to be discovered. I would be willing donate a few buck to anyone willing to try to implement when directed towards something that I feel that isn’t being addressed where I live.

    1. Damn… read it over several times before committing it to be read forever. Replace [less] i “that’s much less so for art intentionally deign to serve a function” with thee word more please. I think it unfair that the hackaday staff has the ability to create their mistakes and those who take the time to comment don’t.

      1. I can find endless examples of Feminists saying that only women can be Feminist, and that all men need to die.

        Feminist is itself a sexist word, derived from “feminine” which is defined as “having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.” In practice, modern Feminism is the ideology that women are superior to men and deserve greater rights, freedoms, and subsidies than men, while men should be specially restrained and persecuted. There’s also a very common argument that a woman’s testimony against a man should be believed regardless of evidence, especially in criminal investigations of rape or assault. Then there’s the new definitions of rape, including hug rape, fart rape, stare rape, verbal rape, and (my personal favorite) telepathic rape.

        Modern Feminists are as interested in gender equality as Wallace D. Fard Muhammad is in racial equality. If you’re after equality, try Egalitarianism. Everyone’s equal, everyone’s the same, so treat everyone as such.

  3. I dunno if it’s got anything to do with feminism, just because it’s a woman who’s made it.

    That said, it is bollocks. Seems like, and the article seems to back this up, that she thought of the transparent dummy thing first, then tried to rationalise some sort of “meaningful” purpose for doing it. The purpose of this “art” is for her to get her degree, I think.

    There’s enough serious, important questions in the world, without stupid bullshit that “raises a lot of questions (but we’re not going to say which ones)”, “it means whatever you think it means”. Modern (not modernist) art seems to be something you do in the hope some rich collector will make your crap fashionable for 10 minutes, which is like winning the lottery in reward and in likelihood. Failing that you end up managing a clothes shop somewhere.

    Sure art is a good thing and society benefits from it, but not this shit. Art should say something, or at least ask something, and that thing should be known and definite. If something can mean anything, then it means nothing. If I want to interpret meaning for myself, I’ve an entire life full of stuff to do that with. I don’t need upper-middle-class kids cutting stuff up with scissors.

    Marcel Duchamp had a good idea, but that was 100 years ago. That joke isn’t funny anymore.

    “What makes you feel invisible? New Femipad Lite, so thin you’d swear it’s invisible.”

    1. “If something can mean anything, then it means nothing. If I want to interpret meaning for myself, I’ve an entire life full of stuff to do that with. I don’t need upper-middle-class kids cutting stuff up with scissors.”

      I am saving this line for the next time someone tries to defend post-modernism.

  4. Everybody will just glance at this and then know it’s one of those not-too-impressive art things and ignore it.
    So sorry but no it won’t be filled with notes nor will it have an impact nor will it be copied all over the world.

    1. I’m all for art, but I’m picky about which art I support.

      There are those who want your taxes to go to “modern” artists who bump buckets on canvas (see Pollock) or literally rubber-stamp existing designs (see Warhol) and charge millions of dollars for it. I prefer to subsidize artist who actually put time, effort, and skill into their work. and by subsidize, I mean I buy their art.

      The quality of art is highly subjective, though, and I have nothing against people who want to pay for art that, from my perspective, has now value in either aesthetic, execution, or message because that’s just my opinion.

      As such, I suggest you buy some of this artist’s work immediately. Anything less would make you a hypocrite.

    2. Nonsense. Art existed before collecting taxes and tithing. Nothing is stopping you from funding whatever arts you desire and there is no need to force taxpayers at gunpoint to fund things they may not care about.

  5. I think the biggest problem faced is the notion that because a woman made it all of you have decided that you need to be against it. Maybe women having rights makes you feel invisible? From what I gathered from her speech is that it is a social awareness project. Not the same as some art piece trying to be bought, but an object to be interacted with in society. It makes me wonder if any of you watched her speech at all. And maybe if you did listen to her speech or see her other projects you’d have seen her accomplishments.
    What she’s been doing is a lot more important than slapping an arduino on a set of wheels and calling it an autonomous vehicle. A majority of the “projects” on here are useless, but god forbid a woman wants to create something with a message. These replies are straight out of the sh*tposting playbook and it’s disgusting to see “my people” commenting on a project in such a way. Even worse so are the jokes targeting the specificity of her being a woman.
    And good god can we talk about how she was accepted into the Brown/RISD dual degree program! That is an accomplishment in itself. Being one of the maybe 15 students to be accepted into a program like that is absolutely insane.

    I’m looking forward to whatever she decides to do next. I’m positive it will be more interesting than the same low-level crap that’s usually on here.

      1. I agree thoroughly. Some serious manbaby jealousy here that I would have hoped this community had evolved beyond.

        I’d offer something about people who don’t understand something knowing better than to pile on regardless, but I know we haven’t gotten that far yet.

        1. Unfortunately the moderation staff has decidedly allowed these hateful comments to continue. With all parent comments, they require moderation, and if the hackaday staff is allowing these kinds comments on their site, then I can’t see much of a future for them.

          1. “People are expressing opinions other than mine. Therefore they are bigots and their words are ‘hate speech’. Hackaday’s failure to force all opinions to match my own is doubtless going to be their downfall, or at least I hope so”.

            Who are you, Harris, and where did you come from? Don’t recall seeing you here before.

    1. “I’m looking forward to whatever she decides to do next. I’m positive it will be more interesting than the same low-level crap that’s usually on here.”

      It’d make a great post for Artaday, that’s for sure. I’m not seeing anything technically interesting here, though.

      This is art. It’s not art I like because I think it lacks in creativity, originality, and effort, but it’s definitely art and I’m sure other people will value it. The same people who pay millions for blank canvases, for example, but I digress. The point is that this has nothing to do with this website. It’s neat, but it’s not an electronic hack, it’s not Retrotacular, it’s not a breaking STEM news story, and it’s really out of place here.

      1. The technically interesting piece is the way it was created and how it can be recreated. I hope you watched her speech, because she’s showing skills people lack in industry. Modeling up the bust, using the 3D tools to mock up a structurally sound sculpture and providing what she created to be created by anyone. And no, you don’t need a laser cutter to recreate this. The same thing can be made with different materials and on a bandsaw. She’s provided the pattern. And the lack of foresight in this community is astounding.

        1. “she’s showing skills people lack in industry.”

          Because entry-level MCAD is lacking in industry? Try again.

          If she’d written some sort of innovative software that generated the sculpture from a reference, or even did something original in the construction or structure, it’d be interesting. But it isn’t. Layered cardboard sculpture has been around for decades.

          Nothing new or interesting to see here, unless this kind of art is what you look for on Hackaday. If this kind of art is why you’re on Hackaday, then you’re looking on entirely the wrong website.

          1. And if she’d written such software, you’d come up with a way to disparage her for doing so. You’re either unintentionally dim or willingly assinine. In either case, you really ought to be looking inward rather than throwing stones at something that, for whatever reason, either upsets or scares you.

          2. From this comment I can deduce that you absolutely did not watch the video. You’re just as bad as people on facebook arguing over an article after having only read the title.

      1. Check the other comments. There’s no doubt in my mind that these same comments would never be found on a project made by man. Distasteful “jokes” about feminine products, feminism, and snowflake crap. It’s as big a problem if you can’t recognize it.

          1. You’re really doing a fantastic job at missing the point. My comment was targeting those that are making distasteful, borderline misogynistic comments. Not their reactions, but the way they reacted.

        1. Actually the point of my feminine-products alleged “joke” was the point that “What makes you feel invisible?” is the sort of asinine faux-feminism that’s also used to sell sanitary towels and tampons. Stuff that patronises women to sell them things. If you’ve ever watched an ad break, you’ve seen it.

          That’s what this is. Cynical patronising garbage for the purpose of getting a degree (and “going viral” like a million failed astroturf ad campaigns), making a lightweight appeal to feminism, while actually being about nothing. Feminism, like anything else, can be ripped off by the cynical and repurposed to sell things, or in this case used to justify someone getting a passing grade.

          You have to actually interpret the meaning in what people are saying. You can’t just search for certain words and then fill in a meaning of your own.

      2. Jeri’s amazing, she taught herself chip design, and has worked doing it! She’s one of the greats. I’m an equal opportunities philistine. Just because this woman’s female, doesn’t mean she can’t produce useless nonsensical art. Plenty of men do it.

    2. It’s the modern art thing that annoys many people too, regardless what the gender is of the artist, which people often don’t even know or care to know.

      Not that there aren’t some here in the comments who battle clearly with misogynistic tendencies too. But you can’t just wipe away all negativity with that easy explanation.

      1. Thing is, that itself annoys people. That because a woman does something, it’s automatically special, and anyone who critcises it is doing it because of misogyny. It’s an easy defense when a woman fails, or makes something crap (for example a movie). “No, it’s not that it’s shit, you just hate women”.

        That’s not just nonsense, it’s in bad faith. It’s cynical, a way of avoiding responsibility for what you’ve made, by claiming all criticism is just sexist. We can criticise a woman’s work just as much as a man’s. It wouldn’t be fair not to.

        Of course there is the separate issue that there really are a bunch of spoilt, immature, sexist neckbeards in the world. Who really are jealous misogynists. But it’s exactly as bad to dismiss all critics as being those, as it is to actually be one.

        Then in the middle there’s the combo, misogynist neckbeards who claim their valid criticism is being dismissed by people calling them neckbeards.

        And on either side, people who stick to their guns and won’t see the whole case. Lots of bad faith, lots of posturing.

        I think the world just needs a hug.

        [^^^ I dared myself to post that line]

        1. Good point to say that dismissing people with ‘misogynist’ without knowing for sure is actually the same as dismissing somebody because of her gender without looking any further. And it does seem that all categories seem represented in this comment section.

  6. No. Kate Reed is taking liberties with public spaces. The park bench nor any other public facility is not a mounting fixture or gallery for an artist’s sculpture/creations. No more than an unguarded wall is a canvas for anyone with a can of spray paint.

    This is in keeping with the “Occupy” movement. Kate Reed is talking about occupying public spaces. No.

    If Kate Reed can use public spaces for her purposes, then anyone else can also use public spaces for their purposes.

    Actually, “performance artists” have already encountered this problem, explicitly. Kate is just trying a somewa

    1. Hate to break it to you but people already use public places for all kinds of things, often rather unwholesome things.
      Plus art projects probably will get approval.

      My advise is though that knowing people and their nasty behavior is to make sure the art is removed Friday afternoon and not put back before Monday morning. Trust me on this.

      1. Seeking approval to place of an art object or installation in public would be the way to go. Sometimes permission (and Permits) can be obtained.

        But as we now know, there are 20,000 struggling artists in the city of Oakland alone.

        Think about it. With artists dodging public officials, what does anybody know about this plastic thing that shows up on a park bench, or wherever? Take it to Lost & Found? Just let the janitorial staff deal with it?

        Better to take better, more creative pictures or video of the art-object (laying there on the bench like a bum, with newpapers laided over it), and try to get it to go “viral” on the web, or YouTube. We do know where there are 20,000 underemployed artists who are anxious to get their message out …

      1. Sure there’s an Occupy-angle. Kate Reed is in an official program at ivy-league Brown University. They’d take a dim view of her project, if she didn’t have all the implications & interpretations identified & articulated. If this was just about producing lots of nifty clear-plastic mannikins, she could just get a good-paying job with a WalMart supplier … and her Advisors would ask, ‘Uh … why are you at Brown, Kate”?

        She says herself that it’s meant to be “more than just functional”. Sure enough.

  7. I too was a bit negative about this project, but I’d like to say that I do appreciate the open source angle.
    I’m reminded of that incident where that British artist discovered they made a copy of the art piece in a town in Britain in some town in china, and the artist and people got all bent out of shape about it, but I think it’s silly, it’s on the other side of the world, and frankly they made a few small changes that worked better for me than the original too, but that’s another matter though, point is that you should be a bit more open about your art IMHO.

    1. That it’s Open Source is good, and it’s interesting. Most art is a (close) take-off on previous art, anyway. And like Hippies, those who claim to be the most original, are often the most conformist.

      The issue of permission or permits can be worked around. First, like in the photo at the top (presumably of Kate Reed gazing at her creation), just stay with the installation. It’s supposed to be about folks’ reactions to it … but how/what do you know, if you aren’t there to see what happens? If you stay nearby, you can immediately respond to any questions, be in control.

      Second, there are public spaces, and then there are public spaces. Places with facilities like benches, Parks, indoor spaces all tend to have more rules. ‘General’ spaces like sidewalks, roadsides, undeveloped spaces, less so.

      Lastly, if the art object was not transparent, in addition to the potential Occupy consideration, there would be a prominent Security/terrorism concern. If we could not see into it, and see that there is nothing (bad) inside it … yeah, the Town Square would be on lockdown and after the bomb squad determined it was ‘nothing’, the next question would be ‘Who’s is this, and what’s it doing here’?

      I suspect that, actually, that’s why it’s made of clear plastic.

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