Enormous Microsocopic Evening L.A.

On November 6th the Hammer Museum hosted an Enormous Microscopic Evening, which demonstrated the range of equipment people are using to explore the invisible, from state of the art futuristic equipment to home made one-of-a-kind technologies. The clarity of the images, range of instruments and enthusiasm of both presenters and visitors created an air of extended awe in the glowing room.

Soon we will live in a world with over a billion connected microscopes, and Enormous Microscopic Evening captured a brief glimpse of what cheap and powerful networked devices might start to reveal. There were lots of portable platforms on display and demonstrations of the way that 'social microscopy' is being used  in medicine, mapping and environmental safety. The day before the event Machine Project hosted a Microscopy Hacking workshop, in which Rich Pell taught how to transform a cheap USB camera into a powerful optical microscope and Phil Ross demonstrated how to make the original glass bead Leeuwenhoek device.

Entering the museum one first encountered a performance of miniature pianos scored by John Cage.
Images from the event can be found here and here. 


Big Screen Microscopy with a RED One Camera

Richard Weinberg  USC School of Cinematic Arts

The CellScope: Telemicroscopy for Disease Diagnosis

The Fletcher Lab UC Berkeley’s Fletcher Lab

Cheek Cell Portraits

Caitlin Johnson The Exploratorium

DIY Microscope Bar

Maria Mortati SF Mobile Museum.

D-Rev One-Micron Pocket Field Scope


Joshua Myers The Exploratorium.

How To Look At Insects: Field to Lab Entomology

Lila Higgins Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Instant Social Microscopy

Richard Pell  Center For PostNatural History

Philip Ross CRITTER

Mobile Field Scope

Denise King The Exploratorium.

Nikon Small World Gallery

Open Source ScanningTunneling Microscope

Sacha d’Angeli Pumping House: One, ChemHacker

The Rosetta Project

Dr. Laura Welcher The Long Now Foundation.

Single Molecule Perception

Stephen Quake the Quake Lab, Stanford University.

Victorian Micro-Art


Micro Sounds

Toy Piano Concerts in the Lobby:
Chris Kallmyer and  Danny Holt

Ambient Life Room:
Phil Ross, Lauren Allen, Zota
Special Dressing



Scott Wallace

On April 24th Scott Wallace presented his journeys through the land of an uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, and other accounts from his upcoming book The People of the Arrow, which will be published by Harmony Books (Crown).
Scott Wallace has worked as a writer, photographer and television journalist on the frontlines and the “edge of contact” between competing worlds and coexisting cultures. He started his career in the 1980s covering the civil war in El Salvador, the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, and the other “low-intensity conflicts” in Central America. He serves as an editor and senior writer at National Geographic Magazine, and is currently focused on the struggles along the world’s final wilderness frontiers, where indigenous peoples find themselves and their homelands under mounting assault by a globalized economy hungry for resources and markets.
Scott blew everyone's minds, with tales of near death, ongoing encounters between hunter gatherers and 'civilization', and the strange presence of knowing but not seeing.



Eat Bug Eat Redux: Machine Project!!

On Friday, March 12 CRITTER went south for Eat Bug Eat Redux: Machine Project Style!!
So many people came to try our tasty fried (and live) bugs in San Francisco, we just knew our friends at Machine would be up for the challenge. And were they ever. Thousands of insects were consumed in a mere 2 hours.

Delicious Mealworms: these were the favorite of the live-bug eaters.

Two fisted mealworm style!

The personal favorite of CRITTER: wax-moth larvae. They taste like bacon!

This time around, we even featured Oaxacan style chapulines

We had a fabulous group of LA-based volunteers who helped us prepare the insects before they were devoured.

More photos from the LA Times here.


Mother Cultural Exchange

On Saturday, February 20th, CRITTER invited people to come and participate in a Mother Cultural Exchange. Mother cultures are used to make delicious edibles and this event featured living samples of yogurt, cheese, kefir, kombucha, sourdough, champapple, miso and various fungi. Hooray for exo-digestion!!!

Lots of different cultivators brought their micro-critters for showing, sharing and tasting. Everyone who came was encouraged to bring home samples to start growing daughter colonies of their own. More images here.
Special thanks to Mikey Sgamballone, Diane Whitmore, Eli Brown, Eric Smillie and the Merritt College Mycological Society for all of their help and participation.

Guthrie Allen was there playing his hypnotic bass loops through the event, helping to propagate waves of growth into the future.


Eat Bug Eat!

On Saturday October 24th CRITTER presented Eat Bug Eat!, an afternoon tasting of edible insect foods. We served wax moth larvae, meal worms, and ‘super’ worms in the form of gourmet tacos. It was so exciting to see people bravely try their first bug, and to watch their faces turn from apprehension to smiles when they realized how delicious they really are.

The bugs were dry fried in a pan, and presented on fresh tortillas with shredded jicamito, Salvadorian cream and some roasted tomatillo salsa verde. A pinch of sea salt and you’d never know you were eating something normally considered disgusting. After a while people started eating them right out of the bowl with salt and lime juice.

Rosanna Yau contributed some very yummy baked mushrooms stuffed with the above mentioned ‘super’ worms. We also had a few different kinds of mead for people to try. Mead is a wine made from honey, and we served it on ice to act as a foil for the fatty spicy crunch of the critters.

Phil Crumar was there singing and playing his guitar, adding to the atmosphere of bubbly excitement in the room. There is a huge hunger for more types of programs like this.

And, of course, there are more photos here.


Enormous Microscopic Evening

On September 12th from 6-9, CRITTER presented An Enormous Microscopic Evening, which might best be described as a large microscope jam session.
Microscopes are devices that skate on the edge of the fantastic, and the Bay Area is home to so many people who use this device for research, work or play.

IMG_8509 by you.

On hand to present their instruments were The Exploratorium’s Living Systems Department, The Carnegie Institute for Science’s Department of Plant Biology, The Fletcher Lab from UC Berkeley, The SF Microscopical Society, the Merritt College Microscopy Program and Thomas Zimmerman.

DSC_9010 by David Merrill.

It was an intense and interesting event, with people focused and talking for many hours at a time.

DSC_8884 by David Merrill.

The scopes demonstrated throughout the evening spanned from home crafted devices made from recycled materials to state of the art immersive displays. More images here, here, and here.

IMG_8342 by you.


SF Mobile Museum

SF Mobile Museum: Looking for Loci by mortati.
From August 28 through August 30 CRITTER hosted The SF Mobile Museum at the Studto for Urban Projects.

This interactive exhibit on the Genius Loci of a place was conceived, produced and curated by Maria Mortati, and is a community sharing project between the citizens of San Francisco and Denver. Go to the SF Mobile Museum site for more information.
In this display were dioramas of meaningful locations made by the citizens of these two cities. Go here for more images of the show.

SF Mobile Museum: Looking for Loci by mortati.

Musical Soldering Workshop

On the afternoon of July 25th CRITTER hosted the glorious Mark Allen of Machine Project fame, who came up from LA to lead a musical soldering workshop. Participants learned the basics of electronic circuit building by creating a primitive synthesizer while the band ing played music to solder by. As people got their synths working they joined ing in playing some simple repeating musical patterns. At the end of the workshop everyone played a simple and out of tune musical piece together.

Much mirth for all. And more photos here.


Kimchi Contest! 김치 경연 대회 RESULTS!!

On May 9th CRITTER hosted its first annual Kimchi Contest. Kimchi is a traditional Korean pickled side dish made of vegetables with various seasonings. It is most commonly made with spicy cabbage, but can be made with other vegetables as well.

It was an amazing event with over thirty varieties to try, each one interesting and different. We served rice, barley tea, and seasoned seaweed to go along with everything. John Engels was there, playing jazz saxophone to accompany the tasting.

1st Prize: Connie Choe, of Granny Choe's Kimchi
2nd Prize: Erin Murray
3rd Prize: Myung Soon Wang, of Young's BBQ (17th and Valencia)

Connie Choe, of Granny Choe's Kimchi took first prize.
THANK YOU to everyone who participated!
More pictures from the event are at SF Station, and also here in the CRITTER photo-pile.


Greywater Guerrillas

On Saturday April 18th Laura Allen from the Oakland-based Greywater Guerrillas came over to CRITTER and gave an inspiring presentation on easy ways to reduce the amount of water we use: Water catchments, super toilets and the amazing powers of pee! And, Earl Grey ice tea with beige cookies.

Laura showed how the water in our lives is connected to local and global political and environmental issues, and how cities and counties are updating ancient techniques to conserve money and resources.

Greywater is water that flows down sinks, showers, and washing machine drains--but not the toilet. While greywater looks “dirty”, containing traces of dirt, food, grease, hair and household cleaning products, it is a safe and even beneficial source of water for plants. If released into rivers, lakes, or estuaries, greywater is considered a pollutant, but to garden plants it contains valuable fertilizer. Saving and reusing your greywater reduces water use by up to half, and can significantly reduce water bills. Greywater also reduces the material in the sewer or septic system, reducing the chance of overflow and pollution getting into local clean water.
Some more images here.


Alcohol Still 101

On Friday April 10th (Good Friday) CRITTER held an all day intensive workshop on how to make a fractioning still out of a converted bathroom water heater.

A fractioning still can be used to create methanol and other forms of refined alcohol. We used polenta, but anything containing starch or sugar can be used in this process. Doughnuts=Vodka.

Still-building authority Allison Wiese came up from Los Angeles, and there was a whole host of fermenting, distilling, and everything before, after and in between. Really Good Friday! It was a huge activity, with lots of help from Joshua Warren and Melinda Stone in getting things together. We made our very own Fun Cooker while Allison's chugged along.

At the end we played "jump-the-flaming-measuring-cup", and “getting friendly with the neighbors”. More photos here.



On Saturday March 7th CRITTER presented Clone-Home, an afternoon open house plant multiplying workshop and cultural center.
People were invited to bring cuttings of their favorite plants to share and trade with others. A variety of cloning methods were demonstrated throughout the afternoon, from super simple cuttings to air layering, grafting and root divisions. We even had some tissue culturing going on.

Denise King from The Exploratorium was there as well, showing off some of her amazing plant cloning units, and coordinating the construction of a “succulent quilt” made from donated plants brought in throughout the day. This planted living wall will grow to become an organic tapestry in about a year, and was already very interesting looking on day one.

Clone-Home also offered a variety of other social plant experiences. We served Tissanes (fresh herb teas) that were made from some of the cuttings, had photo paper on hand to make prints of the transient parts, and MaryClare Bryyztwa, who created live interpretive flute music to clone by. More images here.


Polar Descriptions: Amy Balkin and Adriane Colburn

On Sunday, November 23rd Bay Area artists and social system geographers Amy Balkin and Adriane Colburn talked about their recent visits to the Arctic sea and ice.
The frozen expanses of the North have historically been a location of fantasy, exploration, and now, global dread. First hand accounts of this distant landscape have traditionally informed our greater understanding of the environment, mapping, and trade. In this informal talk Amy and Adriane showed images and described their own rarified journeys, as well as the history of artists/explorers who have visited this mythic location of the earth.

Also included in this presentation was the premiere of an arctic-sublime-cocktail-float "The Sea at Night"

Some images of the event are here.