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Cover image: SolidWorks rendering of Simon Penny's Project Orthogonal by Michael DeLessio, 2020.
Cover image: SolidWorks rendering of Simon Penny's Project Orthogonal by Michael DeLessio, 2020.

Ocean Prototype Nights

Episode 2: Canoes, Conservation, and Computation

November 18, 2021
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. PST
YouTube Stream:

Ocean Prototype Nights: six live-streamed evening dialogs twice a quarter from October through June around the Ocean Art + Science: Navigating the Pacific Project, a dozen 3-year artist-scientist-scholar collaborations in oceanographic and Indigenous ocean art and science culminating, in 2024, in rolling exhibitions at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and the Geisel Library. Part of the Getty Pacific Standard Time 2024 regional collaboration of exhibitions on Art + Science, Graphic Ocean and Navigating the Pacific are forthcoming publication and exhibitions promoting intersections between art and science around oceanic conservation, contestation, and communities of practice. These dialogs are "prototypes" in the sense that they show research in progress.

Canoes, Conservation, and Computation, our second episode, features dialogs, demos, and display live from the opening of the Design and Innovation Building at UC San Diego. Mario Borja, Mimi George, and Simon Penny will discuss the design, build, and sailing of traditional seacraft that leverage both newer and traditional materials and methods to foreground resilience and cultural conservation. Kilma Lattin and Catherine Eng will present their work in immersive reality documenting ha kwaiyo (Kumeyaay tule boats) with Stanley Rodriguez. These projects respond to the pressing social, economic, and environmental concerns of coastal California Native and Pacific Island Indigenous communities in diaspora through the canoe as a vessel for countering cultural loss and creating community.

On display throughout the day in the Design and Innovation Building will be boats, design demos, and documentation around the boat projects led by Mario Borja, Simon Penny, and Stanley Rodriguez. Kilma Lattin and Catherine Eng (Ourworlds) will demo the immersive reality work around Native American vessels. We will be screening clips from Magellan Doesn't Live Here (2017), a video by UCSD  alumnx Mariquita "Micki" Davis about the Sakman Chamorro project; and We, The Voyagers (2020), an award-winning film project by the Vaka Taumako Society about knowledge and cultural conservation through traditional proa  vessel design and navigation; and on-water footage shot by Césaire Carroll Dominguez and other participants in the September 2021 Ha Kwaiyo (Kumeyaay tule boat) launch led by Stanley Rodriguez at the Kendall Frost Marsh Reserve.

Ocean Prototype episodes are produced by Paolo Zuniga and directed by Lisa Cartwright, Nan Renner, and Joe Riley with support from Jessica Ashook, Johnnie Chatman, Mingyong Cheng, Clarissa Chevalier, and Heige Kim for the UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts and Institute of Arts and Humanities, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Getty Pacific Standard Time.

Mario Borja is an engineer, master carver, and cultural preservationist who directs the Sakman Chamorro Project, through which he led the building of a 47-ft replica of the Anson single outrigger sailing canoe (aka Sakman) of the Mariana Islands in the mid-2010s. This is the first full-scale Mariana Islands outrigger to be constructed since 1742. It was moved from San Diego to the Islas Marianas in late 2010s.  A mathematician and aerospace engineer, Borja is a space surveillance analyst and a teacher based in the San Diego community.

Marianne (Mimi) George, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist who sailed over 100,000 n.m. in remote oceans. Between 1979 and 1985 she documented ritual meaning and voyaging cycles for Papua New Guinea islanders. In 1982-84 George was Deputy Leader of an Antarctic winter-over expedition that used the centuries old European method of freezing a sailboat in the sea-ice. They conducted 18 scientific research projects, including George's study of their small, mixed gender group in prolonged isolation. George and David Lewis sailed with sea hunters and migrated with reindeer herders in Chukotka and Alaska during 1988 -1991. George then supported elder-led Siberian Yupik traditional skills summer camps at St Lawrence Island - the Subsistence Science and Video Project. George and Lewis met with Polynesian voyagers of SE Solomons in 1993 and responded to Paramount Chief Kaveia's request to establish the Vaka Taumako Project. Kaveia led the training of youth to use only ancestral designs, materials, and methods to build voyaging vessels, navigate, and rebuild trans-oceanic networks. George writes about ancestral voyaging culture and directs the Pacific Traditions Society, which is building a proa working vessel to support ancestral voyaging education at Taumako. With Kyle McDonald and Brenda Tawopi she is a collaborator on a LACMA supported project about Te Lapa.

OurWorlds (Kilma Lattin and Catherine Eng) is a communication platform using extended reality to transform public and private spaces into interactive environments in select cities and locations around the world for education as well as entertainment. OurWorlds is showcasing an ever-expanding selection of contributors and performances, beginning with a series dedicated to Native Americans.

Simon Penny is an artist, theorist and teacher with a longstanding focus on emerging technologies and embodied and situated artistic practice. He has built interactive installations and robotic art since the mid 1980s. Through artistic and scholarly research and technical design, he explores problems encountered when computational technologies interface with cultural practices. His most recent major work is Orthogonal, a syncretic design project in critical technical practice that draws together traditional and contemporary Micronesian and naval engineering in the design and build of a full-scale seafaring outrigger.  His most recent book is Making Sense: Cognition, Computing, Art and Embodiment (MIT 2017). 

Stanley Rodriguez (Santa Ysabel Band of the Iipay Nation) is an educator, language teacher, maker of traditional boats, tools, and instruments, and a tribal singer. A member of the board of trustees and an instructor at Kumeyaay Community College, he is an advocate for his community’s culture and traditions serving in advising and teaching roles throughout San Diego and Native Kumeyaay communities. A US Navy veteran, he holds a doctorate in education jointly from UC San Diego and Cal State San Marcos, through which he researched and wrote about Kumeyaay language loss and revitalization. He has held an elected position of legislator for the Santa Ysabel Tribe of the Iipay Nation. He formerly worked as a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselor and now teaches full time about Kumeyaay language and the methods and culture he learned from his Grandmother and other Kumeyaay Elders.

Mariquita “Micki” Davis is a CHamoru multimedia artist and educator living in Los Angeles. She currently leads and co-curates Pasifika Transmissions through the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum of Long Beach, programs for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and is a mentor for Armed with a Camera Fellowship at Visual Communications. She holds an MFA from UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts.

Césaire Carroll-Dominguez is a filmmaker, actor, short story writer and artist. He recently starred as Duke Orsino in a production of Twelfth Night and wrote, directed, and was cinematographer for the short film Rose World. He currently attends the San Diego School of the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) as a freshman film major.