Electronic Innovators get it together – Makers Faire Rome

water purifier

Water Purifier

High tech ‘Makers’ and ‘Innovators’ have me captivated, and for my third year in a row I toured the five pavilions at the Makers Faire in Rome . Why you may ask?  Because it’s an opportunity to see new developments and understand how vast this land of Inventors is and the potential of the new technology. It’s astounding!

At risk of being repetitive I say for creativity Italians have it hands down, and the place was swarming with young, passionate, enthusiasts and smart designers eager to explain their new idea and keen to find support for funding the project, often via crowd funding. The Makers movement incorporates the idea of sharing knowledge, creating new, tinkering with the old and recycling to avoid waste, using the new technology at its best.

I headed directly to the ‘Life’ pavilion filled with new projects, particularly aimed at disabled. Too Wheels bowled me over – a wheelchair designed in a FAbLab inTurin with recycled bike wheels, pipes, plywood and instruction manual on how to DIY or buy the package…..accessible to anyone in the world!

 

The young Talking Hands designers won the first prize of €100,000 at the Fair which  hopefully will get the project developed. A technological glove, that on the hands of a deaf person can translate sign language into voice to enable communication with people like us. The guys can be proud of themselves.

Noon talk phone

Or the Noon Care Talk project that allows our smartphone to communicate to our loved ones, who may not be super technological, on a simple Talk phone: sending reminders of pills to be taken AND confirmation, Dr’s appointments etc, with GPS location, direct contact and emergency call button so you always feel in touch.

Then there were various alternative energy projects for lighting using a plastic water bottle, solar energy powering old kerosene lamps (liter of light) to slick wind turbines.

ono 3D printer smartphone

Objects printed by Ono

A rush on the Smartphone 3D Printer- Ono….Oh No!!! and various other devices for cleaning and sterilising smartphone screens.

3D printer smartphone

 

 

 

clean hero

smatphone wiper

 

 

 

 

 

Not exactly essential in life and curious to see the presentation of the wiper being done by a robot!?

 

 

An unusual selection of new machines like the multidimensional electrical bike, 3D printed monuments that can show the weather, and lightweight sculptures reproduced by 3D scanning to create a mobile museum of important artworks.

 

And a superb array of artisan work  in furnishings – Wally 3D printed lamp

cardboard stools and chipboard furniture

fashion design like the coffee bags by girls from Bologna – Re-Find  of interlaced polylaminate coffee bean packaging

and digital fabrication and much more…….

I love it all; the creativity that sees no boundaries, the clever presentation, the smart use of lingo, the enthusiasm, the educational aspects, the philosophy behind it and the thousands of visitors of all ages looking on in awe at what can be made. Wow!ifixit T shirt

So if this has inspired you, you may need to update your toolkit and I highly recommend ifixit.com On my next order I need this Tshirt!

After all, I fixed my washing machine, brought my iPhone back to life after it finished in the washing machine and installed my new car radio….so I consider myself part of the Makers movement!

 

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I did it my Wei and Never Sorry

Florence Palazzo StrozziSome of you may think the title is about me but it is actually taken from Ai Wei Wei’s film called ‘Never Sorry’!

The Wei Wei exhibition ‘Libero’ (Freedom) is in Florence now until the 22 Jan 2017 and I was keen to go early having seen his exhibition in Melbourne in Jan 2016.  There has been quite a lot of comments and some hefty criticisms as the orange rubber dinghies used by refugees, were hung around the majestic Palazzo Strozzi housing the exhibition.

The ‘Huffington Post’  was huffing heaps in an article by Luca Rossi published 5 days before the opening, to give you an idea with an excerpt since the article was in Italian:

‘Ai Weiwei has not done anything politically significant, if not taken advantage of the misfortunes and injustices of the world to increase his fame and the price of his works. Showing the rafts on the facade of the Palazzo Strozzi shows us the refugee problem? As if I did not know that there is a problem, as if the problem did not pass every day on the news. What can an artist do? A lot, but Ai Weiwei does nothing.

If he was born in Viterbo, and  was not “exotic” to the Western world he would not have had the exposure of which he and his gallery owners can enjoy; it is a new form of colonialism, aimed at creating expensive trinkets for the rich to show in some apartment in New York and London. And here are the remains of an earthquake in China in an exhibition in London, and here are the rafts and life jackets hanging of refugees in the city of Berlin and soon (now) in Florence. I would like to see one of those rafts in a living room of Park Avenue.’

wei wei solar cookers

Solar cookers on a wing to freedom

I don’t have the same impression, and believe artworks exist to provoke thought and reflection and as a result, can mean a range of things to different people, and Ai Wei Wei’s exhibits are definitely thought provoking. Many Florentines have never heard of him before so it is a great opportunity for them to discover his works as well as encourage others and tourists from all Italy to visit the exhibition.

 

The impact of the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 which killed roughly 70,000 people is still present with his ‘Snake Bag’ exhibit of 360 kids backpacks sewn together alongside coffins, in memory of over 5,000 children crushed beneath school buildings. In the film ‘Never Sorry’ the list of children’s names, gathered by Wei Wei’s volunteers is papered on the wall of his studio and on the anniversary of this tragic event the public are invited to read a name out loud, continuing the condemnation of the inadequate building materials and structure.

While his career took off after his bird nest stadium for the Chinese Olympics in 2004, Wei Wei has since regretted the building and snubbed the Olympics as being purely party propaganda. Fellow Chinese artists consider him different from those who normally graduate from the Art Academy as he persists with a ‘slap in the face’ style that continues to irritate the Chinese government. His love of his own culture yet his need to break from tradition and conceive images and projects of social significance have set him apart.

wei wei Renaissance men

 

His use of Lego continues in his series on political dissidents, curiously I think taken from Renaissance Italy.

The delicate bamboo and silk figures from Chinese culture – the Birdman, Flying Fish and the Great Wind inspired by kites from his childhood adorn another room.

ai wei wei selfies

Wei Wei selfies

The film shows a very personal side – as a great foodie (which shows!), his love of cats, (keeping around 40 cats and dogs at his studio), his playful side as a father, his organisation of craftsmen, artists and volunteers involved in his projects,  and his constant filming. All gave me a clearer picture of where this artist is coming from.

Free speech puzzle

Free speech puzzle

 

His brand of liberal thinking and use of social media will continue to raise criticisms both inside and out of China and while Wei Wei may be more insecure than what he appears he sure knows what he wants to say with his Art. Wei wei leg gun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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