Blog posts for October 2013

AIMS Ghana

October 20, 2013. By dk. 0 comment(s).

A week ago I gave a guest lecture at the Ghana campus of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Biriwa, Central Region. AIMS launched in Capetown, South Africa and was founded by theoretical physicist Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute and winner of the 2008 TED Prize. (Watch his powerful talk and vision to find the “next Einstein” in Africa.)

It was amazing to spend an afternoon overlooking the Atlantic, discussing the world of ideas with AIMS Ghana's pan-African group of young mathematical minds.

Shared notes on enterprise and entrepreneurship; the production of social versus economic value; innovation and the iterative nature of design. Full notes here.

"Stellate innovation", a design theorem that postulates a methodology for inducing urban innovation (with Yasmine Abbas):

  

Bamboo TV

October 14, 2013. By dk. 1 comment(s).

Television is a word invented at the turn of the 20th century, to describe the (then) emergent phenomena of transmitted and projected electronic audio and visual displays. Technically, it means:

"an electronic system of transmitting transient images of fixed or moving objects together with sound over a wire or through space by apparatus that converts light and sound into electrical waves and reconverts them into visible light rays and audible sound" (m-w.com)

Part of the thinking behind the bamboo "TV" that we built for Sir Black and Martin William's Otublohum Urban Living Room installation at this year's Chale Wote festival was to get Jamestown's young people outside in the open air and expose them to the sounds, images and ideas of their own culture and community  not just the over-commercialized global pop narrative that emanates from the electronic televisions in their actual living rooms, and increasingly, everywhere in the city.

(In the future, we will all have tele-vision.)

Design233 posted a nice roundup of Chale Wote 2013, an amazing festival to celebrate Jamestown, reclaim public space through the arts and re-imagine the city. Community planner and urbanist Victoria Okoye considered this year's event in the context of public space on Urban Africa, as well as wrote up the pocket park project done with Ghana Urban Platform. Accra [dot] Alt, the group behind the initiative, now in it's third year — the only independently produced arts festival in West Africa — also uploaded a great video of the sights and sounds "in reverse".

We spent a week in Otublohum Square, at the intersection of Accra's High Street and Brazil Lane, which leads to Brazil House. It was an unforgettable experience to meet so many people in the community and learn so much about Jamestown and it's history (not to mention building bamboo trusses!). The budget was only GHC 400 (USD 200); hopefully next year we can find a bigger pot, and do more to rehabilitate this important piece of Accra's urban heritage. Here are a few pics of the buildout (more on Facebook):

And a fantastic performance by New Morning Cafe, in which through dancing, drumming and narration in the local dialect they re-interpreted folk icons of the goddesses of Air, Water, Earth and Mami Wata to explain to children the importance of nature and the inter-relationship of the environment and their actions:

Thanks to all the makers who helped build the bamboo TV and the urban living room at Otublohum! And check out the #Accratopia project that Hassan Salih and crew are working on: to transcend the negativity and imagine a utopian future for Accra in 2050. This was hugely well-received at Chale Wote: even the youngest could understand the message. All of which speaks to the power of images...

After the festival, the bamboo structure was disassembled and transported to Berekuso Hill Station, where it will find new life in the on-going #bambot (bamboo robot) experiments. And in case you want to build your own "bamboo TV" stage: