Thank You for Making the Indiegogo Campaign a Success!

These generous folks supported A Life’s Work during the recent Indiegogo campaign and are now part of Team Awesome.  They each deserve a post of their own, but I’m afraid this will have to do. For now!

awesome_004If you missed the crowdFUNding extravaganza, you can still become part of Team Awesome by going to the A Life’s Work project profile on the  New York Foundation for the Arts website page. Your gift is 100% tax-deductible and since NYFA controls how the money is disbursed, you can be sure it  will be spent on the film. (Read about NYFA and ALW’s relationship.)

Donate Now!

Okay, thank you to:

Forrest Wynne, Anne Stephenson, Karen O’Reilly, dfalk37, Cecelia Specht, Gayatri Martin, Dana Eugene Creasy, Ray Magee, Sherri Paris, Kathy Leichter, David Hartman, ecooney, cwood329, Robin Stratton, Anonymous, Manuel Olmedo, Aimee Madsen, Anonymous, James McNutt, Roberta Kowald, Gretchen Knudsen, Rob Elder, David Mayne, Ron Erickson, Will Georgantas, Jen Jorczak, Barbara Frank, ejewett, Kathy McGuire, AT Audio, Pola Rapaport, Greg Lichtenberg, Susan Robinson, Tony Tadey, Daria Price, Andrew Moore, Tara L. Masih, Anonymous, Anonymous, Rita Flores, Roberto Westbrook, thewrightcaroline, Dorothy Robinson, Danielle Futselaar, Julia Ridley Smith, Sarah Verasco, Randon Billings Noble, Niall David, Mary Toepfer Dolce, Lori DeFuso, selbe, Maura McEvoy, Wayne Olsen, Alison Victor, whatisart, Robert Featherstone, Jeff Jackson, Cornelius Sailer, Anonymous, David Licata (not me, the glass artist), Jessica Cowan, Amma Appiah, Kristine McInvaille, Louis Dallara, John Copenhaver, Kimberly Wendell, Laini Nemett, William Bailey, atk2, Beverly Sky, Cliff Garstang, David Cerchio, josiahmail, Laine Valentino, Lisa Heslop, Meredith Miller, corolla150, Charles Graeber, arcodesign, Diane Martin, jplhaupt, Renee Ashley, Laura Powers, Lora Vatalaro, Jeanne Larsen, Rob Venusti, Diane Kelly, Harth, Adriana Gatto, Steven Petrow, Rachel Cantor, Paulette Livers, John Metzdorf, Anonymous, Barbara Campisi, Alison Gibson, Alison Gibson, Marianne Yoshioka, Pola Rapaport, Lauren Taylor, Anonymous, Lisa Carey, Frances Bartkowski, Y.W. Chung, Robert and Mary Darden, aliceag, Stacey Derasmo, Scot Siegel, themehope, Jessica Lipps, Kyu Nakama, Jayne Marek, Brendan Hay, sciencewomansociety , Lucinda Bliss, James Carnahan, Paul Outlaw, Kimberly Johnson, Anonymous, J. Walter Hawkes, Kristin Licata, James McNutt, jahamad88, clof101, Charles Smith, Doug DeFeo, Evan Losow, Steve & Martha Oates, Cassandra Malatak, Rosario Strano, Bob Marovich, Linda Carlson, Faye C, Ed Kelle, Anonymous, Duane Kelly, Karen Bell, Mike Guarino, Judy Fox, David Lewis, Pedro Ponce, Anonymous, Kathryne Leak, Kate McGraw, Indrani Nayar-Gall, Megan McNamer, Joshua Zeman, John Egan, Edwin Stepp, Irene Westcott, Robert Gatto, Paul Lucas, Thomas Bachman, thedavidmiller, crackiecat, Anonymous, Laurie Marsden, Harry Goldstein, Leah Dimond, CM Burroughs, Jill Tarter, Kathryn Schwille, Louis Dallara, leamcox, William Heffner, Paula Whyman, Tina Schumann, Anonymous, Marcie Lenke, Jessica Rosner, Anna Licata, D.W. Young,  bb2316, John Martin, Meryl Meisler, George Kosmides, Daria Price, Judith Pratt, Judith Jones, Jack & Helen Axcelson, Jamie & Jennifer Newton, Marianne Petit, Wolfgang Held, Pete Pazmino, Benna Golubtchik, sgrace1122, Carmen Cormier, Jane W. Deschner, Charles Williamson, Jr., Jennifer Chen, Rob Licht, Ahmad Jarara, Roland Tec, Larry Dark, Heather Kabel, Anonymous, William Swearson, Corey Todaro, Stone Harbor Films – Judith Vogelsang, John R Yearley, danicanov, Audrey Ward.

I may (or may not) write something about my crowdfunding experience. If I do, you’ll see it here first.

And here are the video thank yous wherein I probably mispronounce your name. I’m sorry.

Thank You!

Bride of Thank You!

Son of Thank You!

Return of the Son of Thank You!

Thank You: The Final Countdown!

Bach & Parachute – Sound & Image for You

Here’s a video just for you. Cinematographer Andy Bowley was seriously captivated by this billowing parachute at Arcosanti.  I love listening to, learning and playing Bach. Two great tastes that taste great together. I hope you like it.

Prelude for Cello Suite No. 1 for Guitar.  Recorded super lo-fi in my living room.

Why Crowd Funding Now?

A Life’s Work is  midway through a 30-day crowd funding campaign via Indiegogo, which has partnered with the New York Foundation of the Arts. Here’s the pitch video.

I’ve written about crowd funding here before, and the take away is if you want to reach your goal, start early (check), don’t do it alone (check), be prepared to work hard (my pecs are primed), and set a realistic goal. (Is $30,000 realistic? Is the $40,000 stretch goal doable? Guess we’ll find out.) (No, and no.)

I’ve also strongly advised that people have a campaign either in the early stages of a project or the very late stage of a project. People are more inclined to support beginnings and endings. “I’ve got a film project in mind and I have great people excited to work on it and I need a little money to shoot a kick ass short film that could be made into a feature if it’s seen by the right people, whom I know!” Or “We’ve finished shooting, we’ve finished editing, the composer is lined up. What we need now are funds for things like color correcting, sound mixing, E&O insurance and all sorts of boring but expensive stuff like that.”


A Life’s Work
is in the latter category, and that’s why it’s up on Indiegogo now. Personally, I know I’m more apt to give money to projects during these phases, and of the two, more apt to help out a project that just needs a little help to become fully realized. Knowing that my contribution is going toward something that will soon be in the world excites me. I and a whole mess of other people recognized that there was something special going on. We decided we could help, we could be part of it, and gave a hand to the creator. I feel like a patron. I feel a sense of pride and something like ownership.

Support ALW via Indiegogo or buy 5 Starbucks ventis.Being the person I am, I quantify my contribution. Let’s say I gave $25. A Starbuck’s latte venti, costs $4.45 before tax and is 240 calories. My $25 dollars could buy me 5.61797733 lattes and contribute 1,348.31461 mostly unhealthy calories to my body.

Now, a ninety-minute film is 5,400 seconds. Let’s say this hypothetical film was shot on video at 29.97 fps (frames per second), we have 29.97 x 5,400 seconds or 131,838 frames. Now, let’s just say that that the total budget for this hypothetical film is $80,000, from soup to nuts. By dividing the  dollar amount by the number of frames, we can calculate how much each frame costs. Each dollar will buy 1.647976 frames, which means that my $25  bought 41.199375 frames, or about  1.5 seconds of the film . So, if you, Dear Reader, were to contribute $25 to such a film, you would be responsible for making those crucial 41.199375 frames possible. If you don’t think that’s a big deal consider a film that’s missing that number of frames here and there. It might look like this:

So, if you feel like owning a piece of A Life’s Work,  go over to the Indiegogo page and buy yourself some of the film.  You’ll also receive some cool rewards.

Thanks for your continued support.

Nine-Year Old Blog

The A Life’s Work blog is nine years old today. So much can happen in nine years. For example…

The fourth subject of the film, Robert Darden, was chosen and we interviewed Bob in Chicago and Waco.

I visited the White Mountains in California and shot Bristle Cone Pine trees.

Bristlecone Pine treesEditing.

A work sample screened at IFP.

The Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, NM, was shuttered.

Paolo Soleri retired.

We interviewed Jeff  Stein, A.I.A.,  in NYC.

Paolo Soleri died.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture reached out to The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, and the latter gave the former access to its vast collection of digitized music and related materials.

The Allen Telescope Array was hibernated due to lack of funds.

The SETI Institute did a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough money to bring the ATA out of hibernation.

Allen Telescope ArrayEditing.

Jill Tarter retired.

The Champion Tree Project swapped shingles, changing their name to The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.

I was interviewed by a few people about the film (and my writing).

The blog went on hiatus.

The blog returned from its hiatus.

We interviewed Jeff Stein at Arcosanti.

Jeff Stein takes a photo of his interviewers.Editing.

We shot Arcosanti with a drone.

A Life’s Work received contributions totally more than $3,000.

A bunch of really great people contributed blog posts.

I wrote a lot of blog posts — about 500.

Think about what transpired in your life in the last nine years. Kind of amazing, right?

Donate Now!

 

The Svalbard Seed Vault and the Golden Record: Ask the Filmmaker

Recently, a Facebook friend, ‎Sascha Krader, whom I have never but as the following  will reveal knows me pretty well, asked me this question:
I was talking with a friend today about Norway’s Svalbard seed vault. I had a fragment of a memory that some message beamed into space (i.e. Golden Record, Arecibo etc) had included a map to Svalbard — or they’d considered including one, then decided not to. But when I tried to look it up, to hammer out the details, I couldn’t find a thing. Does this sound familiar to you? I might have dreamed it, but if it’s real, it seems like it fits in the Venn diagram overlap between two of your interests — so I thought you might have heard it before.

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Here is my somewhat researched answer, with some footnoted amendments.

I’m very interested in both, you’re right, and if the Svalbard seed vault was mentioned on The Golden Record, that would be way cool. I haven’t heard anything about that connection, though.

Looking on Wikipedia now:

“The Nordic Gene Bank (NGB) has, since 1984, stored backup Nordic plant germplasm via frozen seeds in an abandoned coal mine at Svalbard, over the years depositing more than 10,000 seed samples of more than 2,000 cultivars for 300 different species.”
and…

“…ceremonially laid “the first stone” on 19 June 2006.”

Voyager and The Voyager Interstellar Record were launched in 1977. I have a book about the making of the Record somewhere, but I can’t find it. 1

In any case, the dates tell me that the Record doesn’t contain info about the Vault.

I know there were very few messages directed into deep space, 2 (as opposed to radio and tv transmissions, which can’t travel very far) 3  and someone did send something from Acrecibo, but I think that was before 1984, too. 4 And last year there was a big debate about deliberately sending messages into deep space. That’s when Stephen Hawking said it would be dangerous — inviting aliens to take over earth, etc.

So, perhaps you dreamed it? Or heard something on TV?

Thanks for the awesome question, Sascha.
Want to help A Life’s Work?

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Notes:

  1. Found it!

    I own this book about The Golden Record
    I own this book about The Golden Record

  2. From Wikipedia
    The Morse Message

    In 1962, a radio message in Morse code was transmitted from Evpatoria Planetary Radar (EPR) and directed to planet Venus. The word “MIR” (Russian: Мир, it means both “peace” and “world”) was transmitted from the EPR on November 19, 1962, and the words “LENIN” (Russian: Ленин) and “SSSR” (Russian: СССР, acronym for the Soviet Union (Союз Советских Социалистических Республик)) on November 24, 1962, respectively. All three words were sent using the Morse code. In Russian, this letter is called Radio Message “MIR, LENIN, SSSR”. This message is the first radio broadcast for extraterrestrial civilizations in the history of mankind, it was also used as a test for the radar station (but was not used for measuring the distance to Venus because for distance measurements the EPR uses coherent waveform with frequency manipulation): The signal reflected from surface of Venus and was received 4 minutes 32.7 seconds (Nov 19) and 4 minutes 44.7 seconds (Nov 24) later.

  3. From  BBC News Magazine,
    Can our TV signals be picked up on other planets?

    But ordinary television and radio broadcasts can also travel out of Earth’s atmosphere and through space, albeit quickly becoming mind-bogglingly diffuse and hard to pick up.

    Space scientist Dr Chris Davis, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, says it is possible that television and radio signals from Earth could be picked up on other planets, but it isn’t easy.

    Some radiowaves, such as those of a short-wave frequency, bounce back off the ionosphere and are therefore poor candidates to be picked up in space. But waves like FM radio or television signals can pierce it and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of light.

    “There are two things that you would need to get a signal [to other planets] – firstly, it has to be able to leave our planet, secondly it would have to have as much power as possible,” says Dr Davis.

    “As you go into space that power would dissipate. They would need more and more sensitive equipment to pick it up.”

    “But television and radio broadcasts are omni-directional – albeit focused as much as possible towards the horizon – and that means a lot of diffusion.

    Assuming the energy spread out equally in a sphere, and that the receiver on Gliese C was as big as the planned Square Kilometre Array of antennas on Earth, the television signals reaching the planet would be a billion, billion, billion times smaller than the original signal generated on Earth, says Dr Maggie Aderin, a space scientist at technology firm Astrium.

    ‘Detecting a signal like this with lots of background noise would be incredibly hard, but what they would look for is a pattern in the signals to show that they were not naturally occurring.'”

  4. From Wikipedia
    Arecibo Message

    First message sent into deep space.
    First message sent into deep space.

    The Arecibo message was broadcast into space a single time via frequency modulated radio waves at a ceremony to mark the remodeling of the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico on 16 November 1974. The message was aimed at the current location of globular star cluster M13 some 25,000 light years away because M13 was a large and close collection of stars that was available in the sky at the time and place of the ceremony. The message consisted of 1,679 binary digits, approximately 210 bytes, transmitted at a frequency of 2,380 MHz and modulated by shifting the frequency by 10 Hz, with a power of 1,000 kW. The “ones” and”zeros” were transmitted by frequency shifting at the rate of 10 bits per second. The total broadcast was less than three minutes.[1][3]

    The cardinality of 1,679 was chosen because it is a semiprime (the product of two prime numbers), to be arranged rectangularly as 73 rows by 23 columns. The alternative arrangement, 23 rows by 73 columns, produces jumbled nonsense (as do all other X/Y formats). The message forms the image shown on the right, or its inverse, when translated into graphics, characters and spaces.

    Dr. Frank Drake, then at Cornell University and creator of the Drake equation, wrote the message with help from Carl Sagan, among others. The message consists of seven parts that encode the following (from the top down):

    1. The numbers one (1) to ten (10) (white)
    2. The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA (green)
    3. The number of nucleotides in DNA, and a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA (white & blue)
    4. A graphic figure of a human, the dimension (physical height) of an average man, and the human population of Earth (red, blue/white, & white respectively)
    5. A graphic of the Solar System indicating which of the planets the message is coming from (yellow)
    6. A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish (purple, white, & blue)

    Because it will take 25,000 years for the message to reach its intended destination (and an additional 25,000 years for any reply), the Arecibo message was more a demonstration of human technological achievement than a real attempt to enter into a conversation with extraterrestrials. In fact, the core of M13, to which the message was aimed, will no longer be in that location when the message arrives. However, as the proper motion of M13 is small, the message will still arrive near the center of the cluster. According to the Cornell News press release of November 12, 1999, the real purpose of the message was not to make contact but to demonstrate the capabilities of newly installed equipment.

Learning to See

I subscribe to the American Society of Landscape Architect‘s newsletter, The Dirt.  Recently Nate Wooten covered a lecture delivered by landscape architect Shane Coen, ASLA, founder of Coen + Partners, who started off by asking:

Who Taught You How to See?

For Coen, the answer is his father, the painter Don Coen. After I read the piece I wondered about the idea of learning to see. Most of us with unimpaired vision just see, there’s no learning involved. It’s like breathing, right? Well, no. There’s seeing and there’s seeing! (And anyone who is serious about meditation or yoga will tell you there’s breathing and there’s breathing!)

So, how did I learn to see?  Who taught me? Thinking back, there have been a few people who taught me different aspects of  this skill.

When I was in college, I was visiting my friend Meg at the University of Delaware. It was a late spring afternoon and we sat on a bench. Meg was a graphic design major with a fondness for David Hockney. Somehow we got to talking about color and she directed my attention to a tree . “I mean, look at that tree. Look at all those greens!”Greens

Yes, I knew there were different greens, as a child I had the big box of Crayola crayons with all its shades of green. But this was different. That tree showed me hundreds, maybe thousands of greens. It was positively eye-opening, and no, there were no mind-altering substances involved.

About twenty years later I took a figure drawing class at the New School. I enrolled because I wanted to use a part of my brain I felt I wasn’t using and I wanted to challenge myself, do something I had convinced myself I couldn’t do. The teacher was, Simon Dinnerstein, a very fine artist. I would leave his class and take the train home and stare at faces for more time than subway decorum dictates. I wasn’t seeing “faces,” I was seeing lines, tracing them with the pencil in  mind’s eye, trying to figure out how I’d draw that nose, that chin, that hair. I had never looked at the human body like this before.

8th Month and 9th Month
Simon Dinnerstein beside his drawings “8th Month” and “9th Month.” Photo by Jeffrey Wiener.

Several years later I was in Michigan with cinematographer Wolfgang Held. We were shooting David Milarch as he walked through a forest. It was snowing and windy. We were looking around for some b-roll footage. I became mesmerized by tree tops swaying. I told Wolfgang I wanted that shot and he said the camera wouldn’t capture it the way I was seeing it.  He was correct.  Before he said that I knew cameras didn’t “see” like eyes, but it wasn’t until he said that that I apprehended it.  Despite this display of ignorance Wolfgang, whenever he saw that something caught my attention, would ask,  “What are you seeing?”

David Licata and Wolfgang Held in Arizona during the first shoot.
David Licata and Wolfgang Held in Arizona during the first shoot.

I was flattered the first time he asked that but I also understood that, yes, cinematographers see better than I do, but sometimes (rarely)  I see things they don’t.

And that’s why now that I act as a cinematographer at my day job at the education factory,  I ask my assistant (when I have one), “What are you seeing?”

There are many other people who taught me how to see. How to see buildings, stars, art, gestures, acting, edits, birds, rocks, lichen, fire, emotions and more. And of course there are many people who taught me how to hear and taste and …

Who taught you how to see?

For more about seeing color check out this episode of RadioLab.

Want to help A Life’s Work?

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A documentary about people engaged with projects they may not complete in their lifetimes.