Sunday May 3rd

Places I’ve been…have we met?

I thought I might make a list of places and groups I’ve passed through

  • I think it can be easy to put people in a box; I have had a lot of lives. If you run into me and ask “have we met”, this might help. Often, it’s difficult for me to place faces, because I’ve met a LOT.
  • If you think I look familiar, we really might have met somewhere! See if it rings a bell. Location is a great start! If you can narrow it down to a field (ie what was I doing?), too, even better!

From Theatre (NY) to Movies (Hollywood) to Art to NASA/JPL to Tech (Silicon Valley/SF) to Grad school?

Paramount?

  • I did a music video on this lot once; I threw away all my tickets from the lots (LOL!). But..I also threw away all my Googs visitor passes/ tech company passes, too when I moved.

I used to do this for a living; building these and threading the film for each package. Here is a photo of me after building one. This is a 16mm camera. I got my first job in LA because apparently I was the only person who knew how to thread these, and didn’t just BS their way through the interview (I was also a tester of students on this camera in college). They told me I got the job the next day and I started the next Monday.

Melody Ranch

  • Here is a photo of me next to a horse (sorry I blocked out the identity of the rider!) in 2013 for an Art Directors’ Guild Family Day. This ranch is famous for having been the location for Django Unchained, Wyatt Earp, among other films, and is located in Santa Clarita.

Universal

  • My first and only experience as an extra for a short film on the Universal lot.

IATSE Who?

  • Someone took a photo of me during an IATSE workshop on moving light fixtures.

Emmy?

  • Photos from a shoot I was on; not my Emmy!

JPL?

  • A huge mentor for me when I lived in LA; he encouraged me to go to grad school.

NASA?

  • From the workshop I did at JPL as a NASA Aerospace Scholar (my mom has all my swag).

Pixel-mapping

  • In 2010, I was obsessed with this thing called pixel-mapping. It was like this hybrid of video, lighting, and computers, but I didn’t know that; I just thought it was cool, so I was chasing around the Virtuoso, the Hippotizer and D3 projection-mapping tools. This is from a workshop where I learned basic pixel-mapping and projection mapping using the “Hippo” aka Hippotizer. The guy who taught is the dude who did the 2Pac Hologram, among other things. It was funny; while the world was freaking out, those of us who knew the technology immediately knew who had done it!

  • A lot of this stuff was compounded with the fact that Previs (think ESP Vision software or this other company, D3) was being introduced from the touring industry into film. In this software, you could design about 85% of the lighting and projection mapping just using a CAD model and programme cues as opposed to just having a static model (in Vectorworks and Renderworks) and programming from scratch at the venue. So it saved time. The Lighting designer, Benoit Richard was teaching classes at the union on this at the time, and that sort of simulation technology made me interested in exploring 3D modelling/ vfx; my knowledge of rendering (outside of editing in Final Cut Pro and simple titles) was pretty limited at the time. I also visited PRG to get a run-down of their Virtuoso MBox, which had a similar system, but integrated internally to their systems for projection mapping.

Institutions (in order of attendance)

  • University of Vermont (currently, as of August 2019; I’m a researcher in training)
  • Glendale Community College (took a bunch of robotics, electronics/PCB classes and programming classes, which led to my admission into PhD candidacy…in…Computer Science? Uh oh what have I done?)
  • Pasadena City College (took a bunch of architecture classes there, machining and welding and AutoCAD digital design class; at one point I thought I wanted to be an architect! I left because the machining gear was being replaced with 3D machines and I wanted to go to a school that still taught machining and had better gear). I also did a research project on the Caltrans building by Thom Mayne, where I ended up talking about the engineering a lot more than the architecture, which ignited an interest in understanding more about how it all worked. It’s an engineering marvel, and the civil engineers were kind enough to give me a private tour of the building!
  • Cornell University (took a course called Music, Light and Dance, an interdisciplinary course, in my final semester, where I learned about Alfred Brendel, saw Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” for the first time and saw Stephen Petronio’s Dance Company live)
  • Ithaca College (went to Undergraduate here; Film, Theatre, Photography and double minor in Art History and Theatre Tech. I also did a Women in Leadership retreat in Seneca Falls at the National Women’s Hall of Fame. I was also in rowing crew my first semester (and received Empire Eight Academic Recognition), had three work-study jobs (one of which was as a cinema film camera tester, which helped me land my first job out of college), and reviewed students’ resumes at the Career Academic Centre as a volunteer). Received multiple awards/scholarships, including max financial award (Presidential Scholarship), Photography Finishing Grants and awarded best BFA of my class and rostered on Who’s Who (also received admission to Howard U, SCAD, USC, among other schools but I loved IC).
  • University of the West Indies Centre of Creative Arts (I studied Film and Video I and II for a year before Ithaca College; professors were Y. Ramesar (theory and intro production), B. Paddington (theory) and C. Selvon Abrahams (animation))
  • University of the West Indies Centre for Creative Arts (also took a summer long course on various aspects of Theatre Technology, including Sound Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, etc)
  • Attended Naparima Girls’ High School (involved in a lot of choir, theatre stuff, also in Sciences class. A-levels subjects: Physics, Maths, Art, General Paper). I was part of my school’s choir, and Prescon (we also recorded a CD in Kenny’s studio). I also played drums for our school’s Steelpan orchestra, took traps (drums) lessons at the Normandie (with V. Maynard who played with local band Charlie’s Roots), played Squash, Netball, Football (UK kind, not the American one) for a bit and was part of the Gymnastics and Swimteam. Also a member of the Indian Cultural Club and completed one grade of piano. Also Brownie, Junior, Senior girl guides (this might be too far back..just say Trinidad and that narrows things down a bit!)

Film (Tech/Design)

  • In school I was on the Dean’s list for 6 semesters (thanks hand-drafting class), Presidential Scholar for 8 semesters, Who’s Who and obtained a Peggy Williams Awards for Leadership/ Best of Major award. I also received a Pendleton Photography Finishing Grant (2008), and two James B Pendleton Scholarships (2006, 2007) and an Ithaca Photo Support Grant (2004).
  • Too many films to name; probably around 200 (Los Angeles). My hair was featured in one straight to dvd one starring Tatiana Ali and Stacey Dash.
  • I worked for one summer at the GIS in Trinidad, making documentaries for television segments. Producer was my title, but I did have to teach myself some Avid and Graphics and was able to interview some extraordinary people.
  • I worked on a soap opera in my home country called “Westwood Park”. I was an extra in two scenes; one involving a lamaze class and a club scene at a club but worked mainly as a PA and wrote cheques/ did payroll during that time as well. Near the end our crew was quite small and I got the opportunity to 2nd AC/ Slate and work with the lighting crew as well.
  • I also worked in a camera shop and a lighting shop, prepping gear, troubleshooting and maintaining it (mostly obscure, proprietary gear). The camera shop experience was during the 3D craze, so I learned a little bit about those types of systems. Camera electronics people are horribly underpaid compared to software people, which is unfortunate.
  • I was a member of the SOC (Associate member) and SMPTE at one point or the other.
  • I am still a member of the DCS because I think they’re cool and I think they have a cool dog.
  • I got a scholarship courtesy of Lighting Designer Jeff Ravitz (multi-award Emmy nominations/ winner; mentorship kind of thing) to attend the Live Design Concert Master Lighting Class (2010). I remember because they were tearing down the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Show recording on stage when we were walking in. It was only then that I found out that they actually recorded most of the show beforehand, and only certain parts were live lol.
  • My mentor for that world was J. Gresch, who introduced me and set up a lunch with Bill Klages for me, which I was eternally grateful for.
  • I also befriended Joe Tawil, who invented blackwrap and founded the company GAM (Great American Market), and used to hang out at his shop a lot (I even still have the gobo earrings). Joe is awesome and really one of those who was sensitive to empathy and diversity; his staff was not only competent, but very diverse, and he cared about and loved lighting.
  • I took the Basic and Advanced workshops on Hippotizer (Media Server), learning 3D projection mapping, as well as some IATSE 728 classes (courtesy of A. Rowe).
  • I have been to a couple premieres (my friend and I skipped Gnass’s class once to attend a red carpet premiere of the film Super 8 - dvd release/party by accident…we didn’t know it was a premiere lol), many screenings (including the premiere of Hugo), and every major film studio in Los Angeles (and worked on three lots).
  • I also did an apprenticeship learning Nuke at a vfx house (Nuke is a node-based compositing tool; I wanted to learn matte painting but they let me do that instead, which I’m grateful for today) for about a month for the film “Wallenda” on the Wallenda acrobats.
  • I also worked on a weird movie (which ignited the software bug) in which I was assigned as the digital technician using software called Sculptor HD on a short called “Craig’s Pissed”; the person thought I was smart enough to handle this tech that I had never seen before. I later learned that this was custom software that was being used to stretch the dynamic range of the recorded images (at a time when this was not done), even though we were using a DVX-100 (not a high quality camera). So the blacks were richer and there was detail in the highlights on this relatively low-end pro-sumer camera. Person who invented this software also introduced me to photogrammetry and 3D motion tracking/match-moving software as a thank you for helping him (thus curiosity began in tech). This person also told me years ago that my punctuation indicated that I might make a great programmer, which I laughed at during that time. I am not a great programmer, but I am in CS, which is funny. Laugh at me.

Theatre (Tech/Design)

  • The Autry (LA) - Lighting Board operator for two shows of The Frybread Queen: link to LA times article. I remembered I had cut my finger and they gave me a bunch of flowers for my birthday, but I missed the last bus so I was standing at the bus stop with a bandied thumb and a bunch of roses randomly at a bus stop. A crew member shortly gave me a ride home.
  • Two Roads Theatre (LA) - Co-Designed Lighting for “Kowalski”. I guess LA times covered it and so did Variety.
  • Barnsdall Theatre (LA) - Lighting Designer for a show. Tippi Hedren starred in this show, and Melanie Griffith attended our opening show. I believe it was featured in Playbill, but I don’t keep track of such things (maybe I should have milked the press for grad school? lol)
  • I befriended Don Holder and he was nice enough to let me sit in on some of his rehearsals, such as that of Oleanna (starring Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman) and even introduced me to Stephen Schwartz once during a rehearsal of Pippin put on by the Deaf West Theatre at the Mark Taper Forum. I was also invited by another designer to LA Opera’s “Magic Flute”, but was unable to catch up because I was in Trinidad at the time.
  • Trinidad Theatre Workshop (Trinidad); I did archival work for them as they were moving into a new space.
  • Central Bank Theatre (in Trinidad); I was an assistant lighting designer
  • Queen’s Hall (in Trinidad); think the Maljo show (I was the kid who ran the light cue when the person stepped away from the board in the middle of the show lol). I also worked on the Cacique Awards as assistant lighting designer (2003) and for the Love Movement Show
  • Naparima Bowl (Trinidad); did a bunch of shows as an assistant lighting designer and trained there. Also acted in some plays in high school there. Got a scholarship to do a theatre tech workshop there once as well (month long session).
  • Arielle Tepper Summer Play Festival (New York City; 16 plays worked as a lighting tech intern, and follow-spot for the show Mimesophobia starring Hamish Linklater). The late Heath Ledger came to one of the shows, among many celebrities. It was a strange summer. I also interviewed with Spike Lee but didn’t end up getting the gig. I also lived in the Hamptons for a month (mostly Southampton and Bridgehampton; I went to the launch of the Star Room, and a couple times to James on Main. I also attended a party at the Bridgehampton country club, where I ran into Kevin Bacon, but I was working the event, and have the most awkward K. Bacon story ever) and worked with the producers of the Lion King on Broadway. I also had my first ever Starbucks frappuccino and accidentally hit a producer in the nuts with a filing cabinet (yikes). I was their favourite intern anyways, so it paid off (I was the only one who was paid and they asked me to come back next year).
  • Film Centre Building (worked in a lighting shop in NYC for a month as an intern, and replaced fixtures for an off-broadway show called Forgotten on Broadway.) Apparently also home to many recording studios, so lots of famous musicians coming in to work as I was leaving for the day. Weird summer.
  • Worked as a lighting tech for the Fringe Festival in NYC (same summer as the Film Centre/SPF gig). Our show had a mime and was called “Love is in the Air”
  • Ithaca College; worked as a lighting tech for Fires, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Shape of Things and Violet.

Art (Sculpture, Painting, Drawing, Digital, 3D Modelling, CAD, beginnings of programming…)

  • I worked on putting together hundreds of fluorescent lamps over Thanksgiving break for my friend’s fine art lighting installation (LA) for the show Light Sensitive.
  • I also attended the DLFLA meetings in LA, which were focused on architectural lighting design and lighting product design. The meetings would usually culminate in an Awards exhibit for the best lighting fixture designs (typically held at GAM).
  • Art Director’s Guild (Tuesday nights live drawing). I also took part in one Art Director’s Guild gallery show where three of my artworks were featured (LA). Mimi, the head of the Guild at the time, was a great mentor to me. I also learned about the work of Guy Hendrix Dyas and other awesome artists there, and got a lot of free books.
  • Animation Guild; AAI (the Animation Guild’s American Animation Institute) (Jon’s perspective class and many of Gnass’s live drawing classes; Gnass teaches animators at Disney and Dreamworks)(LA)
  • Dr. Sketchy’s (took part in their 26 hour long marathons of live drawing (anti-art school); anyone remember Turkish Delights themed drawing as well (belly dancers, hookah, music)? Put on by the artists at Titmouse) (LA)
  • Bob Kato’s workshops (did those before I realized I didn’t enjoy costume drawing as much) (LA)
  • I was also part of the Los Feliz Drawing Club. That was pretty fun, and they had heard of the place I am from, which is kind of rare in LA. (LA)
  • Concept Design Academy (took a bunch of digital painting classes there and Visual Communication and workshops, which involved a trip to the Tank Museum). Robh Ruppel’s workshop left a huge impression on me (LA)
  • I took a workshop with Sam Michlap at Gallery Nucleus, where he critiqued my work and gave us tips on composition and colour.
  • I took a few workshops on painting, colour and composition with Bill Perkins. When you complete his workshops, he gives you an array of hats to pick from, and I got one from NCIS (not the show; the real organization).
  • Red Engine School (took a bunch of digital painting classes there, eg Character Design, Environment Design, Worldbuilding). Patrick Hanenberger’s Worldbuilding workshop left a huge impression on me (LA)
  • Foundation Arts (took a bunch of painting, charcoal and sight size drawing classes there; school is closed) (LA)
  • Studio Arts (took a bunch of vfx and digital 3D classes there; I took all the Modo and Vectorworks classes, Zbrush, Maya, Digital Sketching classes and learned some Typography in Illustrator. I also learned Rhino, which is still my go-to software for mock-ups. Took a gazillion of Todd’s classes. Learned about Renderman. Got first taste of scripting in Rhino+Modo class from Cadjunkie; took at least 3 of his classes. I also took a couple classes by the amazing Jordu Schell). (LA)
  • David Simon Sculpting studio (he’s awesome and runs a workshop once a year in Rome. One of the things that impressed me a lot was that he was not only an artist (with a precision and depth of technical knowledge and resourcefulness), but he was a mentor with a lot of philosophical guidance and kindness. A lot of art+tech people enjoy his classes! He gave me one of the best pieces of advice, ever, which is that as long as you invest in yourself, you will be okay. I still follow this advice!) (LA)
  • I also took a couple workshops with Spiderzero, who works for Del Toro. He was also originally a web programmer. His life advice left a huge impression on me; very wise guy.
  • Gnomon (took one sculpting class there) (LA)
  • I also attended a Duralene workshop at Carter Sexton in Noho (LA). Duralene is this awesome material that you can layer texture onto. I may have also taken a super sculpey class there (I forget).

  • This is not made one by one, by rather a series of generated points, thickened with a pipe tool, and constrained within a geometry (in this case, a hollowed out cube). This was the beginning (via Somewhere Something and learning about the work of and meeting Marc Fornes) of learning about node-based and generative art and architecture through programming in Rhino with Grasshopper in 2014.

Art Makerspaces (Maker/hacker scene)

  • Community Woodshop (LA); took 2 classes there (cutting boards and bowls or something?) (LA)
  • Somewhere something (took a bunch of architecture-3D-node-programming classes there). Learned about generative art and started programming interest here (LA)
  • Matt’s Molten Metalworks (LA); I took a few classes there, including one on MIG welding and mobile sculpture inspired by MIT’s sculptures (person who ran shop was a MechE from MIT) (LA)
  • MakeSpace Arts; I tried to go to their sculpting workshops, but I think they eventually folded :( (LA)
  • Makerden / Acrobotic; did quite a few fun electronics classes here including setting up a weather server, and a home detection system (in Python) (LA)
  • Keystone Art Space (I think the building was bought by the Agassis (yup the tennis players) and turned into a school) (LA)
  • I also designed a movie poster once for M. Nankin and D. Simkins (one of them worked on the tv show Grimm or something).

Transitioning…

  • I enjoyed the Meetup / Maker / Hacker scene a lot, but I didn’t have a lot of resources. I was so broke at the time that the extra money I had I would sink into bidding on laptops on ebay (this was an example of a bid I lost, but this was about the range of laptops I’d bid on). Sometimes I would just reinstall Linux via USB (this is the case for one of my current laptops). I started out Google Summer of Code on a laptop that looked like this, and even tried to do a Tensorflow workshop once on this, but Tensorflow (at the time) didn’t work with this kind of laptop, and for GSoC, my laptop took all day to build GHCJS, and Google Hangouts wouldn’t work on it. So sharing my screen and building code at the same time was out of the question, until I was gifted a laptop by my mentor, and then by Nadia Eghbal by way of a Helium Grant to complete GSoC. It took my mentors and myself about 1/3 of the mentorship to really get things rolling with finding ways to make it work, because I just really initially thought that I could do GSoC on what I had (delusional!). I’m really thankful that no one judged me during this time of learning; they were all really supportive and tried to work with my OS so I could follow along and get as much out of workshops as possible. I enjoyed everything; it was a lot of fun and I was just exploring at the time, so I didn’t mind anything.

Hackerspaces (Maker/hacker scene)

  • Null Space Labs (LA)
  • Queerious Labs (SF)
  • 23B (I’ve been to Sparklecon a few times) (Fullerton, CA)
  • Hackaday; I volunteered at the first ever Hackaday Superconference in SF (LA, SF)
  • I did a couple of Matt’s PCB workshops where we made fidget spinners and did PCB soldering (with those tiny components that blow away if you breathe!); first in SupplyFrame’s SF office, the second in Autodesk’s workshop at Pier 9 (SF). I was also part of the first cohort of Project Alloy’s Grants (for Strange Loop attendance).

Random Medical/ Doctors Without Borders Study Abroad? (Science?)

  • I spent seven weeks of Summer in Undergrad in Bwiam, the Gambia, by route of Adelphi University, Morocco, Senegal and then through Banjul and Serrekunda working and living in a hospital (Sulayman Junkung Hospital) where I worked in the pharmacy department dispensing pharmaceuticals, as well as vaccinating children and taking blood pressure (BP) in nearby villages. The mural we painted as a group was the last known mural at the particular hospital. This was through a scholarship offered from Disney, in which I was one of two persons sent from my school through a programme called “Operation Crossroads Africa”. (West Africa)
  • The grant I received was called the Reginald Simmons Memorial Award (2007)

  • A group photo. A lot of these people are now doctors or medical practicioners. What am I doing with my life again?

Maths

  • MSRI (Derived Algebraic Geometry workshop for women) (bay area; Berkeley, CA)
  • Simons Institute (Error-correcting codes workshop) (bay area; Berkeley, CA)
  • Cornell Number Theory Conference 2019 (Ithaca, NY)
  • ICERM (Providence, RI)
  • IPAM (UCLA, LA)

Tech

  • I volunteered to help teach a class for around 10 children between 9 and 13 each weekend for a year basics of robotics (building robots and coding); the founder was an astrophysicist from Caltech who worked at Rolling Robots.(LA)
  • Intern at Autodesk (remote)
  • Intern at Apple (three months) (bay area)
  • I was a manual tester/ sdet/ plans of making me a build/release engineer but I quit before then? for six months (LA)
  • 1 of 4 chosen for mentorship with developer Mentorship (out of 100) via LearnTeachCode (getting our feet wet with what it means to work as a web developer; I was 1 of 2 of the “intermediate” and in turn had to mentor 2 students).
  • I worked on two products through Philosophie with the purpose of building workable prototypes in five weekends; the first is Coding for Product and the other is Coding for Good; for the first we worked in a group to make an app that would incentivize Metro riders in the LA area (doing user research), and the second we worked on working with a local group (PBS LA) that wanted to incentivize a community to learn coding with their children in local libraries with parents (working with client and persons who were part of that community as user research).
  • I did Google Summer of Code (2018) for Haskell.org
  • I did Mozilla’s RustReach (2018)
  • I took part in Racket School (2018 and 2019); I had to leave midway through 2019’s because I had to catch an 8 hour flight to London to attend Curry On, which was graciously sponsored through a grant by Kyle Kingsbury (who is amazing!) and Heather Miller (CMU; also amazing)
  • Been to many conferences, including Acadia (Computational Architecture conf at USC), Film ones (Cinegear), Academic ones (eg Neurips, Curry On, AAAI, ICFP, POPL, PLDI, ICLR (virtual), ICML (virtual), ALife (virtual)) and Developer (Google I/O, Twilio’s Signal, Strange Loop, Defcon, SCALE, LayerOne, etc), Hackaday’s Superconference (SF and LA), or even just open houses (I’ve been to three JPL Open Houses) and was part of NCAS class of 2016 April cohort. I’ve also been to a few Von Karman lectures and to the JPL German Club several times. (LA)
  • Many, many tech meetups (WWC, LearnTeachCode, Santa Monica Haskell Group, Papers We Love, Data Science Meetups, etc). This how I found functional programming, and research papers, and started whetting my appetite for what I would enjoy in tech. (various)
  • I’ve been interviewed for CareerGirls.org at MIT, and was subsequently invited to the MIT Media Lab for tea (aka robot wonderland!)
  • I’ve also participated in User Research Studies for StackOverflow, Google (4x), Udacity, AT&T
  • I’ve also been invited to formal recruiting events at: Twitter, Quora, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, etc (various)
  • My story has been covered by Coursera, and featured in The Women of Silicon Valley: Caribbean Techies and on the Corecursive podcast. I also did a wrap up report and moderated a panel on Ethics and AI with VentureBeat. If you have made it to the end of this list, know that I am grateful for the journey, and also for the privilege of your time.

Ethics and Identity

  • Code 2040 (Summer 2020; online)
  • Lighthouse3 Data+Ethics mentorship (Summer 2020; online)
  • “Dark Matters Workshop”, School for Poetic Computation (Summer 2020; online)

Sailing

  • I was part of a Sailing Meetup, but ditched it to join the Women Sailing Group of Santa Monica Bay. Loved that group. Maybe we sailed to Catalina Island or to Newport beach together? (CA)

What about you?

  • What does your life look like? Has it been as windy?
Written on May 3, 2020