The Kickstarter Blog

Creator Q&A: coópera on Staging Bernstein's Candide

  1. Positively Parisian: New Photographs of an Old City

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    Last year, artist Patti Mac found a stash of negatives in Paris. Rather than simply develop them — which would, effectively, land her with a totally average collection of photographs depicting the Parisian skyline — she painted what she saw in the negatives, photographed her paintings, and then inversed those photographs. Still with me? Good. The result is a series of images both distinctly recognizable and totally new; ones that approach memory and history with a cheekily winking eye.

    Paris! "The City of Lights"! The place where dreams come true. There are probably few other places on Earth so thoroughly committed to our collective, visual memory, documented relentlessly via novels, paintings, photos, and stories, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an image of it that could be considered "unique," or that could be possessed with any sense of real ownership. Well, I believe Patti may have found something of a loophole. To see what I mean, ceck out some of her images below (the rest live here).

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  2. Q&A with Alex of the Desktop Jellyfish Tank

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    I never really understood why goldfish were in such high demand as pets. They are kind of boring, don't really look that cool, and die off way to quickly for one to really get to enjoy them. Jellyfish, on the other hand, are almost universally feared by kids for their potent stinging abilities, and general gooey-weirdness. I mean, are these things really alive? Will they sting even if they're clear? No, I don't want you to pee on me to cure this Jellyfish sting! However, somehow, Alex, the man behind the Desktop Jellyfish Tank has all but swept those beliefs under the proverbial rug by zoning in on what's truly amazing about the amoeba-like creatures— their gelatinous shape and radiant sheen. I spoke to Alex recently and found out how he first became enamored with jellyfish and, um, if urine is really a cure for a jellyfish sting. 

    When did you first become fascinated with jellyfish?

    I first became fascinated by jellyfish when I saw them exhibited at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their movements were completely mesmerizing. I stared at them for hours.

    Where did you first find jellyfish to purchase? 

    I used to go out in a little rubber boat and catch the jellyfish myself in the ocean around San Francisco. There's an article about it here. 
Jellyfish populations are really fickle. They appear in massive swarms that cover an entire bay several miles wide one day, then disappear the next. They're completely at the whim of the currents.

    Did you take into account the shape of the jellyfish when designing the tank? They seem very similar, almost like a giant jellyfish, with mini-jellyfish inside.

    That wasn't my original intention, but, yes, I like how the tank worked out to resemble a jellyfish. I also drew inspiration for the tank design from how anatomically simple jellyfish are. They have no central nervous system, have no organs, are 90% water, and are at the mercy of ocean currents for moving long distances. Yet they've been around for hundreds of millions of years. As I designed the tank, I constantly tried to remove any complications and make it as simple as possible. I've found the simpler it gets, the better it looks and functions.

    Can you explain the process of shipping the jellyfish? Have you had any interesting/bizarre scenarios with shipping jellyfish?

    It may sound complicated to ship live animals, but we do it every day. The entire aquarium hobby is built on shipping live animals all over the world. We keep our jellies in a holding tank system with massive filtration and pH-buffering capacities to make sure they're comfortable during their stay with us. Jellyfish are individually sealed in thick plastic bags with all the air squeezed out. Bags are packed in insulated boxes along with live rock, frozen food, and any accessories customers order like snails and crabs. A hot or cold pack is added depending on the time of year. The boxes are padded, sealed, and stamped with a shipping label before FedEx picks them up from us and delivers them to the customer's doorstep the following day. We have an Arrive Alive guarantee in case customers are worried about whether the jellyfish will survive shipping.

    Is it true jellyfish are "immortal"?

    There is a species of jellyfish recently discovered to be able to revert back to earlier life stages, i.e. the swimming adult can attach to a rock and turn into a polyp. This was the first time this phenomenon was ever observed in an animal species.

    How do jellyfish procreate? Can you breed them?

    Yes, we breed some of our own jellyfish, but it's a complicated process (see). First males and females excrete sperm and egg respectively into the water. When those find each other they fuse to make a larvae called a planula. The microscopic planula swims around until it finds a suitable hard surface to settle on, where it metamorphoses into a polyp, which looks like a tiny sea anemone. A polyp can bud off clones of itself hundreds of times over. When the polyp feels it's time, which is usually in the spring, it becomes very long and segmented. Each one of its segments breaks free and starts swimming as a larval jellyfish called an ephyra. Finally, the ephyra continues swimming and grows into an adult jellyfish.

    Are jellyfish comparable to sea monkeys in any way?

    Jellyfish love to eat sea monkeys a.k.a. brine shrimp. Seriously, they are one of their favorite foods.
    Has there been any **crazy** info you've learned about jellyfish in your research?

    I think the coolest thing about jellyfish is that they are arguably the most vulnerable animal in the ocean. They are slow, soft, live in the open, and have very little sense of their surroundings except tactile sense and rudimentary eyes. But despite all this, their populations continue to thrive and there are hundreds of species of jellyfish.

    And last but not least, have you ever been stung? Did you, ya know, use the highly mythologized way of getting ride of the sting? Does it in fact really work?

    I used to get stung all the time as a kid and I hated jellyfish then. If you get stung, I know what you're thinking and don't get someone to do it no matter how enthusiastically they volunteer. It doesn't work. Vodka does work though.
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