The Spiral Dance Installation and Ceremony

Coming together at sunset with a view of the sea, at the Fish Factory Creative Centre in Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland, I hosted a ceremony along with Sif Yraola. We joined together in The Spiral Dance – a Meditation on the Ghosts of our DNA, along with the beat of a drum, thanks to Tom Allon. We explored our inner DNA and the mysteries it holds of those that gave life to us and walked before.

I created a sculpture of old nets used for drying fish, relics of the fishing industry of yesteryear, found at the factory. This sculpture is approximately 10 ft. tall with more than 600 candles and composed of 200+ nets.

A tribute to our DNA and to our ancestors before us. My intention to create an atmosphere for movement, ceremony and contemplation. The shape, similar to DNA, also happens to resemble the symbol of my ancestral tribe, the Lumbee Indians.

Questions we pondered;

  • What is DNA?
  • What is passed on through our DNA?
  • How are “survival instincts” passed on through generations?
  • What other kinds of experiences might be saved in our DNA?
  • Is it possible that DNA holds important memories of our ancestors?
  • Can our DNA reveal experiences of previous generations long before our present time?
  • Reveal fears? Reveal trauma? Reveal blessings? Reveal patterns?
  • Can this information be accessed by us, here and now?
  • Have there been times you instinctively knew information without learning it?
  • Have you ever known about a historical event without physically being there?
  • Have you experienced deja vu?
  • Have been to a place for the first time that is completely familiar?
  • Felt a strong connection to something without clearly understanding why?
  • Met someone you just seem to already know?

During the ceremony we stopped and looked into each others eyes and then we moved together in unison.

We are the past as much as we are the future. We need to listen to our inner DNA. To conduct our own personal research and to find out for ourselves; to listen to the voices, feelings, sights and experiences of our ancestors. Their joys and fears are within us. In that way our ancestors are with us always.


Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things

Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things

I am pleased to be part of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things, a prototype of the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab that experiments with shifts in authorship and ownership of stories while exploring the ethical and political implications of ‘Internet of Things’.

The ‘Internet of Things’ is positioned to be the largest deployment of connected devices, dwarfing PCs, tablets and smartphones combined. The opportunity this presents for laying storytelling over the physical world is exciting. Stories that can aid the discovery, personalization and connection of people to places and things.

Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things focuses on four design principles;
1) THE TRACE the importance of being able to see a trace of your contributions within the story
2) GRANTING AGENCY balancing team and individual tasks enable participants to see where their decisions and actions impact the experience
3) THEMATIC FRAME designing an emergent space for Sherlock Holmes inspired creations provides a common foundation
4) SOCIAL MOVEMENT through a kind of serendipity management we can design moments where participants “bump into” unexpected points of collaboration

Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is world wide endeavor; includes meetups in close to 20 cities, collaborators from over 60 countries and 250 participants within a pilot massive online/offline collaboration (MOOC), which was developed within the Film Program at the School of the Arts and is powered by the Columbia University School of Continuing Education (SCE). MOOC is an effort to create a dynamic experiential learning space that bridges the physical and the digital.

This MOOC will create an experiential learning environment that mixes theory and practice to reimagine the world of Sherlock Holmes. Over 10 weeks, participants will engage in lectures, teamwork and project based learning that explores the future of storytelling. Together teams design and build smart storytelling objects, which are plugged into a massive connected crime scene with locations around the world. The goal of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is to build a massive connected crime scene consisting of smart storytelling objects. This fall teams will create, design, build and test prototypes that will be plugged into a number of crime scene locations around the world. The first crime scene will be staged at Lincoln Center during the New York Film Festival September 26th through October 11th

Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things

About the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab
The Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab designs stories for the 21st Century, building on a diverse range of creative and research practices originating in fields from the arts, humanities and technology, never loseing sight of the power of a good story. Technology, as a creative partner, shapes the ways in which stories are found and told. In the 21st Century, for example, the mass democratization of creative tools — code, data and algorithms — changed the relationship between creator and audience. The Digital Storytelling Lab, therefore, is a place of speculation, of creativity, and of collaboration between students and faculty from across Columbia University. New stories are told here in new and unexpected ways.

For more information visit
Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab
Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things Global Challenge
Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things featured at Convergence as part of the New York Film Festival

Reboot Stories Lab & Learn Do Share – NYC

On June 12 and 13, 2014, I was part of a two-day intensive Reboot Stories Lab on DIY Urbanism, in which 40+ participants explored together through collaborative action, design thinking, storytelling, play and technology. Our focus was “The Village of Arts and Humanities” an arts-focused community organization whose mission is to support the voices and aspirations of the community through opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. This local community in Philadelphia embraces D.I.Y. culture to change their neighborhood and use these tools for civic engagement and social good.

We broke up into groups and workshopped ideas how to revitalize a low-income neighborhood, that could be implemented in “The Village.” Quickly we had to imagine, using off-line, low-tech approaches (including The Wheel of Reasoning and the Hoshin Strategy Outline all components of a toolkit offered by the FreedomLab based in Amsterdam) to help define crises/threats/opportunities and solutions in low-income neighborhoods.

It was a interesting experience to work in this manner without direct research of “The Village” or the neighborhood. We relied on first-hand accounts from Aviva Kapust and El Sawyer, staff of the “The Village” Aviva and El spoke to the group about the cultural history, economic challenges, and social successes of the neighborhood, providing a snapshot of life there. They also participated in the small group exercises, not only as contributors to their projects but as resources for the full group to tap into.

In our separate groups we defined a specific crisis and then proposed solutions, opportunities, and potential resources. We later presented our ideas and then came together collaboratively to map out our ideas together on one really long sheet of paper. It was quite interesting to see in the end all our ideas mapped out and connected in our re-imagined community.

This intensive program marks the beginning of Learn Do Share (Learn by doing, understand by sharing) which took place at The New School, in Manhattan on June 14, 2015. Learn Do Share is a social innovation hub which happens internationally free to participants and run by volunteers. This year the focus of our Reboot Stories Lab and Learn Do Share is DIY Urbanism.

My Sky is Falling Featured at d.i.y. days at the New School

I was the production designer for My Sky is Falling (MSiF) an experience design that harnesses technology and story to create empathy for the challenges faced by foster care children.

MSiF was presented at d.i.y. days on Saturday, April 27th as an innovative project going beyond the screen. d.i.y. days is about the accessibility of ideas, resources and networking that can enable creators to fund, create, distribute and sustain. Guided by immersive performances and sensor technologies, participants in MSiF uncovered a dystopian sci-fi tale. The ending showed MSiF’s roots in real experiences of foster care.

My Sky is Falling Immersive Experience at Envision

I put together a wonderfully talented team of designers to work on an experience design called My Sky is Falling that harnesses technology and story to create empathy for the challenges faced by foster care children was presented at Envision 2013: Stories of the Global Health Challenge on Thursday April 11. Attendees of the conference and the public were invited to participate in 45-minute sessions with intimate groups of 6-10 people at a time.

Envision is a program of IFP in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Public Information. Guided by immersive performances and sensor technologies, participants in MSiF uncover a dystopian sci-fi tale. The ending shows MSiF’s roots in real experiences of foster care.

MSiF is a project of Reboot Stories, a startup dedicated to harnessing story and tech for social change. Designing with instead of for is key to Reboot’s approach to purposeful storytelling. MSiF was designed with former foster care kids through a partnership with the NGO Orange Duffel Bag. Other creators include interdisciplinary teams of Columbia University students and data scientists from the non-profit Harmony Institute. MSiF integrates Affectiva biosensors from MIT Media Lab to give further insight into social impact.

At Envision, MSiF is an innovative project going beyond the screen. MSiF will be published as a creative commons framework for foster care groups like the Brevard Family Partnership and ASPIRAnet to use in training sessions for potential foster care parents and social workers. The intent is to help participants understand on an emotional level what it is like to be a foster child.

At the end of the experience Lance Weiler with Reboot Stories along with Clint Beharry from Harmony Institute gave a presentation based on the data collected by Harmony Institute and the Affectiva biosensors from MIT Media Lab of the participants levels of emotional response to the entire program.

The design group are artists Jennifer Cox, Darryl Hell, Mikhail Iliatov and Tessa Mauclere.

Jennifer Cox
Jennifer Cox is a filmmaker with a background in both Architecture and Fine Art. The common thread in my work has always stemmed from my interest in storytelling beginning with my studies in narrative architecture to being head writer and director for the Eddy award winning first-of-its-kind FPS game, Dimenxian, designed to prepare students for the Regents Algebra exam, to finally my work as a filmmaker.

Darryl Montgomery
Darryl Montgomery [aka Darryl Hell], mixed media artist/musician, founded sektor 6 kommunikations in 1989, a socio political and artistic think tank that produces educational & artistic events and media. He has done sound/video design for productions such as “Women in Prison” [Rickie Solinger] and “New York Values” [Penny Arcade].

Mikhail Iliatov
Mikhail Iliatov was born in Russia, moved to the US in early 90’s. Has worked on art projects and exhibited since 2003. Focus on interactive installations using audio recordings, video, and computer programming, as well as book arts and photography. Live and work in Brooklyn.

Tessa Mauclere
Tessa Mauclere has degree in textile arts at the national college of art and design in Paris (ENSAAMA) where she studied the creation of trends, colours, textures, motifs, patterns, and shapes for all areas of fashion, textile and interior architecture. She then graduated with a master degree in Event Design in Montreal, studying and creating site specific-installations and exhibition design.

Envison Logos

My Sky is Falling

Foster Care Statistics
I am so excited to be working as the production designer for My Sky is Falling an immersive story experience that aims to raise awareness about the challenges American foster children face before they age out of the foster care system. A pilot of the Story Design Lab, a lab that mixes narrative design, game mechanics, and design science to tackle social problems.

My Sky is Falling compares the experience of aging out of the foster program to a science fiction thriller. The purpose of this project is for participants to understand on an emotional level what it is like to be a foster child and will hopefully be part of a framework to help potential foster care parents.

My Sky is Falling is a collaboration between Columbia students and former foster kids, including the filmmaker Lydia Joyner. This production is made possible through a partnership between Reboot Stories and NGO’s Orange Duffel Bag and The Harmony Institute.

About Reboot Stories
Reboot Stories harnesses storytelling, technology and design science to form an innovation engine for digital literacy, cross-generational learning and social change.

About Orange Duffel Bag
The Orange Duffel Bag Foundation provides coaching, training and ongoing mentoring to at-risk youth; support to their guardians and caring adults; and service to the community in a spirit of offering hope and enriching young lives.

About the Harmony Institute
The Harmony Institute (HI) is an interdisciplinary research center that studies the impact of entertainment on individuals and society.

My Sky is Falling Schedule
April 11th – Envision @ the Tribeca 92Y
Envision explores the power of storytelling as a vehicle for social good. Envision’s annual gathering connects UN experts and NGOs with some of the most creative minds in film making and new media, and helps them work together to find new and compelling ways to create a momentum for social change. Hosted by the UN and IFP.

April 27th – diy days NYC @ The New School
1:30 – 6:00
diy days is a roving gathering for those who create. FREE to participants and organized by volunteers – diy days is about the accessibility of ideas, resources and networking that can enable creators to fund, create, distribute and sustain.