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Maker Fair PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michela Pilo   
Jun 02, 2006 at 11:41 AM

Postings From Promotions: Azania Baker Out And About For ZeroOne San Jose/ISEA 2006

My job rocks. I work for the coolest, most contemporary and edgy festival ever housed in San Jose. I get to talk to brilliant artists and check out amazing festivals for free. Case in point, on April 22nd and 23rd I went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo. It was great. Never before have I been to a festival rampant with so many Do It Yourself creations. The brain activity was almost palpable! People from San Francisco to San Jose came to share ideas and inventions. Think chaotic creativity. College professors, high-tech engineers, tech-savvy adolescents…all in one place.

I am seeing a completely different side of life right now. I’ve always been into art (a word that can mean so many things), but now I finally get a chance to immerse myself in the creative scene. Unlike events where you shuffle from one booth to the next like human cattle grazing on gaudy jewelry and expensive junk food, the Maker Faire was crammed full of workshops, interactive booths, and DIY projects. It was overwhelming at first—it took me an hour to explore all the projects and exhibits on the grounds. But it was easier to handle once I realized it was just like a giant science fair for adults. People walked around with shirts that read “no I will not fix your Mac,” and “I’m blogging this.”

Inquisitive-minded, problem-solving artisans milled about with stars in their eyes, enthralled by all the contraptions and devices. Others congregated at booths to network, swap discoveries, and compare tricks of the trade. Inventors on multiple levels—from the guy who made lamps out of sink pipes to the girl who created red-eye goggles—united at this festival of the brainiacs…. And of course The Geek Squad was there to ensure any mishap would be remedied.

The first day of the festival, I hosted Natalie Jeremijenko’s booth with her former T.A. and his girlfriend. They helped display her How Stuff Is Made website on a television that was half taken apart. The booth provided information on the mechanics and materials behind the process of making all kinds of things: a bottle of water, a paperclip, a fortune cookie, etc. How Stuff Is Made was a hit with the Maker Faire crowd since it fed the whole mentality of making it yourself. The second day one of the ZeroOne artists, Derek Lomas, attended the fair to document participation patterns, and I helped him string up his camcorder so that he could get aerial video footage of all the children and adults working on re-constructing things out of old keyboards and PCs. It quickly became a humorous situation. While Derek and I created a make-shift harness out of string to hang from the rafters, four or five people approached us to brainstorm/suggest/advise the best way for him to manipulate the angle. This episode represented the spirit of the whole faire.

My two favorite exhibits were the Constellation and the VJ Battle. I wasn’t the only one mesmerized by the sight of a human constellation; a large crowd was drawn to the sight of their limbs transformed into glowing points of light. Similarly, people gathered to watch battling VJs illustrate electronica music where entrancing visuals accompanied rhythmic beats.

All in all, it was great to explore a world beyond the mundane. The Maker Faire was a place where bikes made out of brooms and 70’s furniture whizzed around. Where you could feed sheep-shaped balloons that instinctively flocked together. Where tables and lamps glowed brilliant colors depending on the surrounding mood. Where an exercise machine doubled as a video car game. Where people made graffiti with magnetic lights. Make magazine’s first attempt to provide a rendezvous for inventors, designers, creators, and builders alike was a complete success. And maybe the next time it comes around, I will contribute my own little creation.

Last Updated ( Jun 02, 2006 at 11:41 AM )
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