Archive for ‘Biography’

December 13, 2011

your loving brother

by noah

your loving brother by philip seymour hoffman

and with our bare hands we turn to one another
reach below a universal line of sight
and lift our tent.
tremendously it begins to rise.
we watch our tent adhere to the environment surrounding.
our hands the creators of our universe
our minds the collaborators of our hands
our experience the distinction between our minds
our knowledge the harkening of our experience
our culture the reason for such knowledge.

heavy winds will rotate the perspective of our tent
but as shade will absorb a glare ceases to harm.
we are the spiritual center of our universe
inquiring among orbiting planets
taking breath among foreign agents
forging a new magnetism of place.


September 20, 2011

Athena Llewellyn is my name

by athenallewellyn

I was born in a storm. Nothing went according to plan. It was supposed to be a home hippy pleasant birth to a bubbly baby boy to be named Josh. None of that. At the end of 36 hours of labor and 6 feet of snow, I arrived, a girl, nameless and fighting. After a week in the hospital, on the ride home, my mother realized, as they turned onto Llewellyn Avenue where they lived, this is Athena!  And so that’s my name: Athena Llewellyn. Sort of a global local mythological girl next door.

I grew with a Siddha Yoga Ashram under the spiritual guidance of Gurumayi, traveled the tofu trade show circuit as a child with my family’s entrepreneurial vision, Legume, the first company to go public with tofu in the country, then when Legume sold we spent our summers caravaning groups of young adults to the South of France for a month of communal living, festival hopping and art making. Last year I was living in Iceland immersing myself in the education of healing instruments. This summer I had artistic residencies in the Netherlands and Belgium with my nomadic bath house the Spa Ship, where I wash people’s hands in a crystal singing bowl.

Now I spend the majority of my time rallying the Creation Nation. Manifesting as “public art by the public”, the Creation Nation is a program of my family’s art and education foundation, the Barat Youth Initiative. We just completed the largest collaborative art piece in the history of Newark, including over 500 students in a 4 story Peace Mural to honor the Dalai Lama’s visit with the Newark Peace Summit in May. On October 23, we will celebrate the 4th annual art parade, officially dubbed the Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade. Here, we will gather thousands of students to march alongside artwork we have made with them over the years accompanied by the drums and horns of 4 full sized marching bands, we will march across the city reclaiming the public space as a shared space for the community and creative voice.

The creator lives in all. It’s just a question of waking up. That’s what I love about DIY, its an awakening of creative voice and personal agency. A rose by any other name would still be a rose. It is time to access our heart intelligence and create the world within which we want to live.

click here for the Creation Nation Website

September 20, 2011

Bio: ian rygiel

by rygielia

I was tempted to title this post, “am I doing it right?” but I figured I’d jump in head first and see what the aftermath looks like (besides, admitting I don’t have a handle on a particular piece of technology makes me feel too much like my parents).

Hi, I’m Ian.

I’ve had an interesting few years living through the recession and after losing my teaching job to cutbacks I’ve done what I could to make ends meet. I’ve been a day laborer, a private bartender, a writing tutor and a loader for UPS. On occasion I’ve gotten some video work for local bands and businesses, but for the most part nothing was steady. Luckily, I’m now teaching English at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in N. Plainfield NJ, which has been a great fit for me. It’s my hope that I’ll pick up some interesting ideas from this course to incorporate into my classes this year.

Spare time is at a premium these days, but when I get some I enjoy brewing my own beer, writing and working on video projects. Hopefully when things settle down for me I’ll be able to brew up a special ale for the class.


September 16, 2011

bio :: noah klein

by noah

well hey there new friends, i’ve been at a loss for words after reading through the inspiring projects that everyone is up to… but here i am! my name is noah and i come from the land of venice beach, california, though to be fair i haaave been in new york for a solid four years now. i attended eugene lang for my undergraduate degree in media studies and the arts, graduated in may of ’11, and filed myself into the five-ish year program which brings us to the present. basically, my new school heart is pumping hard right now. but i’ll quit with this slow drip of formality and move towards what really turns me on. community. i believe that power doesn’t exist in vertical relationships, but in horizontal collaboration. to be absolutely vague the attraction of spectacle that we call business, hollywood, and politics are in theory a game of the weak, and it is in the proliferation of dialectic, collaboration, and collectivity that one can hope to become a part of the change that we wish to see in the world. but of course, it does no one any good to ignore the shameful reality we are a part of (i’m a big fan of situationism and the fluxus movement if you couldn’t tell already). but enough with the romantics, i’ll tell you a bit about what i do.

pt. 1 :: fmly is the creative project that has been my life’s work long before realization or understanding, and i’ll be the first to argue that i still don’t realize or understand quite what it is yet. i have actively been hosting and promoting arts events since the age of 14, at first convincing shops in santa monica and culver city to allow my friends to convert their storefront to a performance space for one night every week or two. during this time i also played in a local band, and building a community thread became a much more fascinating project than the mundane daily routine of attending a los angeles public high school. i’d like to see you learn your ap us history from a textbook that was copywritten in 1973. upon graduating and shipping off to new york to begin what would become the first enjoyable academic experience of my life, i began to notice that it was pretty weird that all of my friends were musicians, activists, writers, visual ponderers, and artists of all sorts, and my buddy cameron and i decided to start a blogspot documenting our own community. i hate to bore you with nostalgic details, but if we peek forward four years to see what became of our little collective of friends the results are splattered across multiple languages, continents, and timelines. what began as me in my dorm room has turned into a collective of the most positive and supportive friends that i can imagine, and inspiration that i honestly can’t keep up with anymore. without any external motivation we have successfully hosted four all ages music and arts festivals in previously unknown spaces, opened five DIY music and arts “venues”, released a healthy amount of zines, vinyl, and cassettes, illegally repaired los angeles’ infamous elliott smith mural, curated an entire free, outdoor, summer concert series, supported our friends as they have toured the world presenting their ideas and sharing fmly, and coordinated two years worth of global group bike rides which promote a re-territorialization of urban space. and i’m proud to say that this is only a brief summary of a speck of work and play in regards to what we are up to. the amount of heart work that myself and my friends and people on the other side of the world that i have yet to meet have put into this has completely blown my mind and once again rendered me speechless. currently we are working oh so hard on developing curriculum for a community center to open in the under-served neighborhood of inglewood, los angeles, with a focus on urban sustainability, bicycling and alternative forms of transportation, and music literacy. the youtube clip above is for a documentary that is currently being shot in los angeles, soon in new york, and we’ll see what the kindness of community can fundraise after that. during the time of this trailer the focus was our involvement in local bike communities, but last time i checked in on it the story rightfully expanded to the scope of how we approach our modern situation, or condition. needless to say i’m excited. also found it cute that out of all of the local music we encourage the filmmaker decided to use a david byrne & brian eno song as the theme.

read more »

September 15, 2011

Bio Natalia Guerrero

by Natalia Guerrero

Born in Colombia, raised in Latin America. Video artist and community organizer working with the use of video and photography for human rights advocacy and youth media projects. Currently working on the use of film documentaries as a personal reconstruction of memory (being your own historian), specifically with the idea that the reconstruction of memory is fragmented and dependent on the given or available information, in many ways evoked by what could be called “landscapes of memory”.

“Re-cons-tructing televisions and reprograming television channels.”

Besides building cameras as a DIY approach with communities I am also working on television circuits to make personal interventations, reconstruct personal memories and to play around with the idea of building your own television frequencies and content.

check out: Shooting Cameras for Peace, Escuela Audivisual Infantil and Ojo al Sancocho. (

September 14, 2011

Hello friends.

by debmlong

Hi all-

This is Deborah. I am from Brooklyn, NY (by way of Columbia, South Carolina and Philadelphia, PA).

 I graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA in 2007, with a BFA in Writing for Film and TV.

I started my MA in Media Studies with The New School in 2009 because I wanted to expand upon and continue to explore some of the things I only scratched the surface of in undergraduate school. When I started here, I thought I’d be more interested in theory, but I realized that I have gained the most out of some of the production work I’ve done-simply going through the entire process of producing a short narrative (albeit for a class) was one of the single most gratifying experiences I’ve had in a long time. I’ve learned, essentially, that I learn best, in any scenario, when I am actually, physically, doing something, and I think this is true for most of us.

I’d like to use this course as a way to further investigate and develop the ways in which one can share an experience and make it purposeful as an experience to share with others-how to create a learning experience, or space, out of a specific idea or event.

I want to try and put some of my ideas in the context of not simply “I want to do this,” but “Why do I want to do this, and how do I go about sharing this with other people in a way that is meaningful.”

I’ve been reading through some of the other bios, and I am truly excited to be in this class with the rest of you, and I look forward to learning from all of you.

September 13, 2011

Bio: Sara Fusco

by sarafusco

Where to start?

In large part, my interest in this class was sparked by a desire to explore various approaches to DIY storytelling. I admit that I’ve had limited exposure to many of the DIY concepts and projects we’ve begun to read about and discuss. But I’m also beginning to realize that many of the things I’ve been involved with over the years are, in fact, surprisingly relevant. Or at least they skirt around the edges… (just nod and say yes)?

(An example: A recent project brought me to Uganda, where we met this awesome guy who invented something pretty spectacular, I think)

As more background on me, I’m originally from upstate New York. I completed my undergraduate degree in political science many years ago in Pittsburgh. I skipped around DC for a while, working at a legal aid NGO (aka non-profit) doing fundraising, marketing, graphic design, event planning…essentially whatever I could get my hands into. I then worked at a refugee advocacy NGO, where I started focusing on online outreach, communications strategy, and video production. I traveled twice to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan interviewing Iraqi refugees and producing videos. And this was the project that finally pushed me toward pursuing my Master’s here at the New School.

I’ll graduate this Spring, and afterwards I hope to continue to focus on storytelling projects that are largely related international human rights and humanitarian work. But I’d like to engage in ways that are different from the “norm” whenever I have the chance, and hopefully this class is my gateway to some new ideas and approaches.

And here’s another video, simply because I still feel incredibly lucky to have been there, from a recent trip I did with an NGO on the eve of South Sudan’s independence. My DIY approach to filming without a lightpanel on pitch-black streets at midnight? Taping on my headlamp and rushing out to the street, hoping that somehow it would work…

September 13, 2011

Bio: Farah Momin

by Farah

Hey guys! I’m Farah and my hometown is Peachtree City, GA, whose claim to suburban fame is that it’s a planned community with a system of golf cart paths laid throughout. People drive golf carts to school, restaurants, shopping, basically anywhere in the city limits. Yes, it’s totally bizarre.

(Me + huge ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus truck)

I spent my first two years of undergrad at the University of Georgia, intending on majoring in Magazine Journalism. After realizing that I might not want to pursue a career based in print media, I took some time off before transferring to Eugene Lang College here at The New School. I did the BA/MA program there, which allows students to finish their bachelor’s degree (I did mine Culture and Media Studies with a focus on Digital Media) while beginning to take classes in the MA program. This is actually my last semester, and I’m both excited to be done and sad to be leaving.

I’ve been working for awhile now with Prof. Trebor Scholz on several of his projects, including The Internet as Playground & Factory conference and the book he edited last semester, Learning Through Digital Media. I’m also currently interning at The Access Network/BlackBook Media, helping with research and development of their local online & mobile initiatives. Lastly, I recently started doing some freelance blogging and community management for thought-leadership event series Applied Brilliance.

There has been a thread throughout my studies of using digital tools to work, play, and learn collaboratively, so I’m looking forward to further exploring those topics from a critical perspective in this class. I’m also really interested in getting more hands-on with DIY projects and initiatives. Creativity used to be a much more physical thing for me when I was younger with painting, drawing, making collages, etc. As I grew up and got more into technology, the process of “making stuff” has become a lot less tangible. While I still enjoy the play involved in using Photoshop or Illustrator and creating websites, I’m excited to get back into the physical world of DIY.

September 13, 2011

Bio: Lily Antflick

by Lily Antflick

Hi! I’m Lily.

I’m from Toronto, Canada and this is my third semester in the MA in Media Studies program at the New School.

I did my undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal. My background is in Art History. I’ve worked at several Canadian art galleries and also in film production at Radke Film Group and Soft Citizen in Toronto.

My focus in the program is Design but I am interested and open to a diverse array of fields and discourses, especially in regards to local and global DIY initiatives.

Most of my personal DIY projects are arts & crafts or food related. Some DIY activities that I enjoy include: creating origami cranes and pinwheels, inventing new recipes in the kitchen, thinking up unique interactive drawing games, drafting my own typography and painting gifts for friends. Lately, I have taken up knitting as my newest DIY hobby. Contrary to the New York dining norm, my most memorable evenings involve weekly cooking adventures with friends, where we experiment with new ingredients and veer from traditional recipes in the kitchen.

Experimenting with Beet Gnocchi

A birthday present that I made for a friend (recycled wooden frame and painted canvas)

This past summer, I worked at the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam on the ‘Out of Ink’ Project, where I researched the changes occurring in the publishing world and the differences and implications of print vs. digital publishing. The initiative views publishing as more than just an avenue of communication but also as a way to challenge legal, technical and social standards embedded in intellectual property, scholarly communication, and notions of authorship. One of our motives in this project is to act as an organized facilitator of DIY publishing practices, to further professionalize them and provide a model for others.

I’m really excited about this class…I think we should all delve into as many DIY NY projects as possible this year.

DIY Candy Apples

September 13, 2011

Bio: Edmund Kasubinski

by Edmund Kasubinski

Since I already biographicized myself in class to most of you the other day, I’ll be brief.  I could just end the post right there (I did invent a word in the previous sentence) but I’ll go on:

I mentioned my musical DIY project, which is entitled Pepper Coat.  It’s not so much a pseudonym as it is the name of the band.  And it’s not so much a band as it is only comprised of me.  And, I guess people have called me Pepper Coat directly before, so I suppose Pepper Coat is in fact a pseudonym.  You can call me Edmund though.

A performer/musician pretty much has to be DIY these days, doing the managing and recording and promoting.  All that stuff, and also if they’re ambitious (and 9 times out of 10 eccentric) they can even play all the instruments and self-produce (see:  R. Stevie Moore)  So, I try and do that kinda stuff:

This one is me DIYing a punk band:

And this one is me Elvising with myself:

Well, enough about Pepper Coat.  I hope to work with everyone in the class to learn about new DIY initiatives.  I really had no idea how much stuff was going on out there and I’d like to get in on it… any of it, really.

Pepper Coat

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September 13, 2011

Bio: Amanda Garque

by Amanda Garque

Hi everyone! My name is Amanda and I’m a third semester student in the MA Media Studies program. I’m originally from Montreal, Canada where I did my BA in Communication Studies (specializing in digital media production), Sociology and Liberal Arts.

My background is really rooted in traditional media production. For years I worked in the English television sector of Montreal for institutions such as the CBC, Food Network, and B360 Media. I moved to New York a little over a year ago and have since been working in film production and development at Braven Films.

I will be the first to admit that my experience with DIY has so far been rather superficial (a reality that I’m hoping to modify this semester). As hobbies I sew, plant vegetables & spices, develop recipes, experiment with visual arts, and create websites/blogs on various subjects. I was raised by a nutritionist so I have a particular interest in different food movements, health awareness and urban agriculture. However, through this class I would like to explore DIY in a more profound and meaningful way than I have in the past and learn about initiatives I currently know nothing about. I look forward to confronting the issues and questions surrounding DIY with all of you this semester!

September 13, 2011

Bio: Alex Kelly

by alexandrakellyg

Hello, my name is Alex. First and foremost, I consider myself an ‘educator.’  At least, that’s my answer to the “What do you do for work?” question that is all-too-common loud New York City bars. “I’m an educator exploring my own pedagogy and open to enlightenment and instruction with every new decision and experience that I enter into.” <–That would be my ideal on-the-spot response.

For now, I’ll write about the work that I want to hone, expand and reproduce through fresh insight gained at The New School:

Handing over a microphone to other people excites me. As a Facilitator at StoryCorps in Brooklyn, NY, I introduced 1200 people from around the country to the power of listening and capturing conversation through recording.  My favorite parts were the “words of wisdom” – moments when lessons were shared with the awareness that strangers would discover them in the depths of The Library of Congress archive.  People want to know that their lives and life lessons will be remembered.

Duct Taping the Airstream...A DIY Moment

During the Summer of 2009, I completed a self-designed project entitled Listen To This:  Recording Stories of Bangor’s Homeless ( where high school students interviewed homeless shelter residents in Bangor, Maine and shared their stories with the community.  This project promoted community and youth awareness of homelessness from the voices of people who live it.  Most of the 15 people that were interviewed attended the final listening event, sitting in different parts of the audience and watching people listen to their stories.

After traveling around the country with StoryCorps and then finishing the project in Bangor, it was my personal goal to settle down for awhile; to be part of a community.  New York City can seem so huge sometimes, that the act of seeking out community can often seem like a daunting task!

I wanted to get to know my new neighbors in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Their life stories have shaped the history of this community, and continue to shape it as it changes over the years. Where is this history going as the community changes?

Before We Present Our Work to the Neighborhood

Four students at Paul Robeson High School joined me in this community-seeking mission. The students were the backbone to this project.  They planned it from the beginning.  They set goals, talked about interviewing techniques, planned for and implemented presentations at a local nursing home and a Precinct 77 Community Council Meeting.  They asked the librarian at their school to accept this archive.  They interviewed over 45 people who have lived in Crown Heights for over 20 Years. For the most part, I stepped out of these interviews, sitting off to the side and letting the students take over.

Our Listening Event

Our final listening event attracted over 130 people from many different community backgrounds and interests.  To listen to some short pieces from this project, go to Silence Without Doors.  You can also read about the project from the students’ perspectives at Crown Heights History Project.  (I will be speaking about this project with some other neighborhood historians at Medgar Evers College on Sunday, October 23rd at 2:00).

Currently, I am continuing work with high school students in Crown Heights at Brooklyn Children’s Museum.  They are editing film portraits of 14 people from the neighborhood who they interviewed on the subject of change.  I have included one example of their work below:

I would love to answer any questions about these projects and am always open to collaboration and other ideas…what else is Graduate School good for?

September 13, 2011

Bio: Andrew Jay Bowe

by andrewjbowe

I am a second year M.A. Media Studies student, focusing my studies on urban media and mass culture. Many of my influences come from the movement politics of the 1960s, the intersection of theory and action, and using digital resources to organize people.

I received my B.A. from the University of Colorado-Boulder in Humanities with an emphasis in Philosophy and Film.


September 13, 2011

Stephanie Corleto

by stephaniecorleto

Hi Everyone!

Not sure how to start this, but I guess my interest in DIY began when discovered feminism, vegan-ism, and started to idolize Kathleen Hannah during my  freshman year of high school (I was about  10 years too late to the Riot Grrl party).  I worked with A.I.R. Gallery throughout college. Currently I am writer, recently for the Neuburger Museum and Colour & Trends.

On a tangent, here is a funny stop motion I did with Le Tigre’s “My My Metrocard.”

During college I studied Art History and Women’s Studies. My thesis was a feminist critique of contemporary craft theory, and an exploration of these techniques used by those self-identified as artisans and conceptual artists. Currently, my interest still lies in art production, but how digital art that defies the traditional ideas of value determined by the museum and art market. For these institutions value comes from ownership and authenticity. But digital production often defies these principles. How can something that exist on the internet really be owned, pieces that exist solely on the internet that can be re-mixed.  How will these new cultural artifacts be incorporated into future art history? After doing some research, came to notice that museums such as the Walker Art Center and Whitney Museum of American Art at one point had active projects for experimental digital art, but now are not update [just looked at Whitney’s website, it  does include exhibitions from 2011…but there is a large gap in time between updates and no direct link on the museum’s website]. What are the effects of the short lives of these programs? If there is no longevity, how can we be assured this part of cultural history will be around for future generations? I want to explore these questions in relation to DIY culture. I have a hard time clearly verbalizing the connections between these ideas and DIY, but I know it is there and hope to be able to come up with something a little more eloquent by semester’s end!

Some interesting reading on the subject:

Marisa Olson, “Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture” (chapter), Words Without Pictures, LA County Museum of Art, 2009

Law vs. Art Criticism: Judging Appropriation Art” by Cat Weaver.

How Do You Sell an Animated Gif?” by Hrag Vartanian (the comment’s section is pretty interesting)

September 12, 2011

Ariana Stolarz, nice to meet you.

by Ariana Stolarz

On my interests in collaborative, voluntary, unmanaged efforts—My grandfather left Lithuania when he was nine. His boat happened to stop in Argentina. Other relatives arrived in Cuba and in the United States. After some time, my entire family reunited in Buenos Aires. With limited communications, limited economic means, and rudimentary English and Spanish language skills, these immigrants in the 1920’s managed to build collaborative networks to stay connected one way or another. I have always wondered exactly how they managed to do so—to get to reunite families around the globe with such limited communications technology.




In 1999, I thought I was working in banking. My employer, Lloyds Bank, was a world leading financial institution. I was assigned to a project that was meant to improve the bank’s operations. Years later, I have come to realize that back then, I had been contributing to a new way in which people were beginning to connect, communicate, and participate. I was a member of the team that launched the first Internet banking platform in my country, Argentina.

In the year 2000 I started an online forum: (Talk to the President). It had the flavor of a blog; a diary of political thoughts nourished by opinions of citizens that were exploring an emerging political democracy. At that point, the Argentine government was not yet ready to engage in this dialogue, and participants were wary of sharing their points of view with the rest of the world.


A year later, I was working in Miami on a platform similar to what or YouTube Live Streaming are today. It was an online aggregator of video content enriched by in-house production of short films, animations, Japanese anime, and content licensing for the fashion, sports, and culinary channels. We bought the rights to live stream a full-length soccer game for the first time in the Web history. Thousands of sport enthusiasts subscribed to our pay-per-view offering (However, their slow dial-up connections did not allow them to enjoy the experience). Although the technology was not quite ready, for the first time in my career I faced the emergence of a savvier audience who was looking not just for new ways to communicate, but also for new forms of entertainment, manifestation, exploration, discovery, connection, and participation.


After some years in the advertising world at agencies such as JWT, Vidal Partnership, and mcgarrybowen—where I currently lead the Digital Strategy group—, I decided to continue pursuing my interests in 1) getting a deeper understanding of peoples’ drivers to interact with media and technology; 2) to gain a deeper knowledge of the way in which people relate with family, friends, colleagues, and particularly with strangers; and 3) to explore the motivations, the reasons why people collaborate in network-computed environments. In 2009 I joined the MA in Media Studies program.


Recommended courses:

  • Urban Media Lab: Strangers—Jessica Blaustein
  • Urban Media Archaeology—Shannon Mattern


Oh! And I am very much into Korean Martial Arts.

September 12, 2011

Heather Strycharz

by hstrykdiy

FYI my last name is pronounced “strike-cars”.

I grew up in rural western Massachusetts, received my BFA in Media Arts at the Hartford Art School and I currently live in New Haven, CT. I work as a web designer at an e-commerce company where I get to design and build such sites as I began my MA in Media Studies at the New School in January 2010. I commute to my courses in NYC via the often unreliable MetroNorth (btw – This is why I usually rush out of class, and yes that is a picture of me on the MNR).

As for my involvement in DIY things – I have always been one to draw/sew/cut&paste/design/paint/build/grow/cook. Basically I’m drawn to hands-on/mouse-on projects of all kinds. My work can be viewed at Recently I’ve been working on a design side-project called Love Local Design, a design studio dedicated to supporting small businesses and local organizations. Hopefully it will also have a shop element soon. A percentage of the profits will go to local (New Haven/CT) non-profits. Inspired by this course I have enrolled in a silkscreen printing course at Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven – I will keep you updated on my progress via this blog.

I ended up learning a bit about DIY hardware hacking via my boyfriend Scott (you can view his hackings and music at Earlier this year we resurrected a night he held up in Rochester,NY called FridayNightThing. FNT is “a gathering of interested (usually) musicians, artists, coders, geeks and other riffraff who meet to cabal while coding, improvising, listening, watching, participating or spectating. Musical, visual, and improvisation styles vary and eclecticism is appreciated. It is inclusive and open to all provided all have open minds.”

Here is a video of February’s FNT:

As for the participatory learning part of this course, I am interested in using my skills in design and media to teach. I hope that the readings and discussions for this course will help to inform my future teaching career.

September 9, 2011

Tom Tenney: DIY-ography

by Tom Tenney

Hey everyone,

Since I seem to be the “old dude” in the class, it’s hard to write a biography of my life and/or DIY involvement without writing a novella which would no doubt bore you beyond tears.  Therefore, I’m going to limit this to a quick summary plus a timeline with supporting materials where appropriate.  I guess my interest in DIY began with my involvement in the punk rock scene in Boston in the late 70’s-early 80’s, which embraced the DIY ethos in just about everything.  People who couldn’t play started bands (including me – I was the bass player for ‘The Ethnic Slurs‘) and the guiding principle was “don’t wait around for someone to tell you what you can or can’t do – just f’ing do it”.  So when I had had enough of public education, I dropped out at age 16 in search of something better, which I found a year later in the form a rural, arts-oriented high school.  I also dropped out of the theatre program at NYU four years later, opting to instead travel the world as part of Robert Wilson’s touring company – after which I returned to Boston and started my first theatre company, Ikaros, which was the real beginning of my DIY adventures.  The timeline since then is roughly:

1991-93:   Lived in LA and produced several underground theatre pieces in church basements and coffee shops

1993:  Left LA and attended Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College

1993-1995: Produced & directed several small theatre productions in Chicago while managing the Chicago Improv comedy club and running my own small comedy booking business.

1996: Started the ‘Comedy Asylum’ – Chicago’s first weekly ‘alternative comedy’ showcase, at the Subterranean Bar in Wicker Park.

1997: Left Chicago and returned to NYC where I started hanging out with a downtown DIY performance crowd who called themselves ‘Art Stars‘ – with them I began a weekly burlesque/comedy show called “Grindhouse: Alternative Burlesque” at the now-defunct Tonic on Norfolk Street.  For this show, I wrote a manifesto that relied on my still-intact punk rock DIY values.

1999-2002: I moved Grindhouse over to Surf Reality’s Urban Savages, where I was a resident producer, and changed the format to dirty musicals written and performed weekly at midnight, and the name of the show to “Grindhouse-A-Go-Go!”  This show became hugely popular, largely due to the party atmosphere, the nudity, and the free beer you got at the door.  Here’s a montage of some Grindhouse-A-Go-Go!  shows during that era.

WARNING: This video is NOT safe for work, nor for delicate sensibilities.  If you are offended by nudity, salty language, and/or some appallingly un-PC behavior – DO NOT WATCH THIS VID!

2002: Started my own underground performance space, called SPACE, on the corner of 14th St. and Avenue B. We closed a year later when we fell afoul of certain city ordinances.

2008: I went back to school to finally get my bachelor’s at The New School.  This really has re-ignited the creative spark, and I’ve started playing around quite a bit with sound.  Here is a link to a radio pieceI did last summer on three of the aforementioned ‘Art Stars.’

2010-2011:  I started the RE/Mixed Media Festival as a way for artists to have a voice in the ongoing conversation about remix, mashups, copyright reform, and free culture.  Here’s a video of me talking about it in an interview I did last summer with Intelligent Television.  This one isn’t nearly as salty.  Apparently I’ve grown up a bit…

This is the list I sent Nitan last weeks of additional stuff I thought would be interesting in the context of this class.  Also, at the end is a link to an online project I did while still an undergrad on “culture jammers,” and focuses on: Joey Skaggs, The Yes Men, and Billboard Liberation Front.

Elf Girl by Reverend Jen (memoirs of somone who has truly lived the DIY life – to be released on 10/25)

The Pirate’s Dilemma by Matt Mason (really good overview of DIY and youth culture today, and how it is changing everyone’s lives)

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century by Greil Marcus (places punk rock in social/historic context)

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk(stories for the 70’s NY punk scene)

Pranks! (RE/Search, No. 11) An incredible collection of interviews with DIY artists and culture jammers including: Jello Biafra, Abbie Hoffman, Joey Skaggs, John Waters, and many others. Out of print but I can scan particular interviews of people want to read them.

I haven’t read but look great

Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America

Micro-bionic: Radical Electronic Music and Sound Art in the 21st Century

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder 

Finally, here’s a link to the ‘Culture Jamming’ project, which seems pretty relevant to the stuff we’re talking about in this class.




September 6, 2011

Bio: Nitin Sawhney – Assistant Professor

by Nick Brewer
  • PhD, MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MS, MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • MS, Information Design and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology


Nitin’s research, teaching and creative practice engages the critical role of technology, artistic interventions and DIY cultures among communities in contested spaces. He previously taught at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology and conducted research at the MIT Media Lab on networked collaboration for sustainable product design, ubiquitous computing and responsive media in urban spaces. Nitin is a research affiliate with the MIT Center for Civic Media, where he co-founded the Department of Play, a research collaborative, to design participatory mobile video, mapping and pedagogical tools to support creative expression and civic agency among marginalized youth. Since 2008 he established the Voices Beyond Walls initiative to conduct digital storytelling and youth media workshops in Palestinian refugee camps. In 2008-2009, Nitin conceptualized the Media Barrios project as a Visionary Fellow with the Jerusalem 2050 initiative at MIT, conducting research on media arts intervention in divided cities including Jerusalem, Belfast and Berlin. He recently began a pilot research study in the West Bank and Gaza on the role of participatory media for resilience and civic agency among children and adolescents living in conditions of conflict and crisis. Nitin is currently completing a documentary film, Flying Paper, about the participatory culture of kite making among children in Gaza, with support from National Geographic.

Recent Publications:

Nitin Sawhney, Raed Yacoub, Julie M. Norman. Jerusalem and Belfast: Envisioning Media Arts for Urban Renewal and Cultural Identity in Divided Cities. The Jerusalem Quarterly Journal, Institute for Jerusalem Studies, October 2009, Issue 39. pp 62-80Nitin Sawhney. Voices Beyond Walls: The Role of Digital Storytelling for Empowering Marginalized Youth in Refugee Camps. International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, Workshop on Digital Technologies and Marginalized Youth, June 3–5, 2009, Como, ItalyNitin Sawhney, Saul Griffith, Yael Maguire and Timothy Prestero. ThinkCycle: Sharing Distributed Design Knowledge for Open Collaborative Design. International Journal of Technologies for the Advancement of Knowledge and Learning (TechKnowLogia), Jan 2002, Vol. 4 Issue 1. pp. 49-53Nitin Sawhney, Sean Wheeler and Chris Schmandt. Aware Community Portals: Shared Information Appliances for Transitional Spaces. Springer-Verlag Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, February 2001, Vol. 5, Issue 1. pp. 66-70Nitin Sawhney, David Balcom and Ian Smith. Authoring and Navigating Video in Space and Time. IEEE Multimedia Journal, October-December 1997, Vol. 4, Issue 4. pp. 30-39

Office Location:

2 W. 13th Street, Room 1214

Office Hours:

Wednesdays, 3:00-6:00 p.m.


Research Interests:

Participatory media technologies, collaborative learning platforms, creative DIY cultures, civic media and artistic intervention in conflict and crisis, responsive media and tactical design in urban public spaces, mobile video and speech/audio interaction, hybrid documentary film practice, digital storytelling and resilience among marginalized children and adolescents in global contexts, creative activism and civic agency among youth in the Middle East.

Professional Affiliations:

Research Affiliate with the MIT Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Awards and Honors:

Seed grant for documentary film “Flying Paper” awarded by the National Geographic All Roads Film Project, May 12, 2011Jerusalem Visionary Fellowship awarded by the MIT Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning and the Center for International Studies, 2008-2009Dedication to Activism through the Arts awarded for the Boston Palestine Film Festival (co-founder) by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, May 31, 2008Martin Fellow for Sustainability awarded by the Martin Family Foundation and the MIT Laboratory for Energy and Environment, 2002-2003First Douglas Engelbart Best Paper Award at the ACM SIGWEB Hypertext Conference for “HyperCafe: Narrative and Aesthetic Properties of Hypervideo”, March 1996
September 6, 2011

Bio: Nick Brewer

by Nick Brewer

Welcome to Creative DIY Cultures and Participatory Learning! My name is Nick Brewer and I’ll be the TA for the semester. I am very excited for this year

I’m using this first post as an example of what is possible in these blog posts, so here goes. It is very easy to put in text, video, links, and pictures into each of these posts so go nuts!

I was born and raised in the small town of North Pole, Alaska. After graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, I sold everything I could, and with a hockey bag and a few boxes, head off to New York City in the Fall of 2007. Since then I’ve been an Audio Newsgatherer at Fox News Radio, cutting tape on every type of event imaginable and even covering the New York City Comic-Con and Nathan’s Annual 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Shameless plug!

Quiz Buzzers from Nick Brewer on Vimeo.

I’ve been known to pick up a hobby or two a week and see how things turn out. From learning how to circuit bend electronic toys to building my own work bench, these skills came in handy in the month leading up to Santacon 2009 when I built a seven foot tall robotic Santa Claus costume. The day after Santacon 2009 I began planning for the following year. The idea to build a better robot and film a documentary came in a sleep induced high on a warm summer evening.

Please check out my documentary Santas On The Move