Rust Garden

Rust is gorgeous. We marvel at its endless shades of ochre, red, orange and sienna. We appreciate the organic shapes created as right angles collapse and edges decay into jagged landscapes. Rust is poetic, photogenic, artistic and melancholy. It grows on its own and famously, never sleeps.

As an agricultural species, we love to garden. We plant seeds outdoors, water them diligently, watch the miracle of life, trim, weed, and appreciate the lush green plantscape we’ve created. Gardening gets right at our souls. But why limit ourselves to plants?

Let’s garden with rust! Rust gardening is easy and the perfect way to exploit a “brown thumb.” In some ways it’s identical to growing a plant garden. In other ways it’s the polar opposite. A rust garden is created by “planting” metal pieces outdoors where they can weather organically. Patience is required, though the process can be sped up with regular watering, plus a few other tricks. You’ll eventually be rewarded with lush decay, in a myriad of sunset colors. Of course, your rusted wonder won’t bear anything edible, but it also won’t attract any pests. You might even extract a centerpiece-worthy “bouquet” from your rust garden, in leiu of a traditional harvest. Of course pesticides are unnecessary, and weeding is entirely optional.

For this year’s Dinacon I’m planting a rust garden outside of a home in Gamboa, Panama. Since I’ll only be there for two weeks, I’ve chosen to accelerate the initial rusting process using a household concoction of white vinegar, peroxide and table salt. The results are instant, but really just a head start on what promises to be a post-industrial patch of sepia-toned disintegration, offsetting the riot of tropical greenery.

Here’s how to make your own rust garden.

  1. Pick a patch of ground outdoors. You can also set up an indoor planter box or humidity-rich terrarium.
  2. Gather some scrap iron or steel. If it’s already rusting, so much the better.  Painted or coated metals won’t rust quickly. Strip the paint and sand the metal for best results. If you’re not sure a metal will rust, try it anyway. Experimentation is a terrific way to learn, and the artist’s favored tool.
  3. You can leave the metal to rust on its own outdoors, or water it regularly to accelerate the decay.
  4. If you’re an impatient gardener, it’s easy to get some rust going immediately. Pour some white vinegar into a plastic spray bottle and mist your metal scraps until they are thoroughly moistened. Wait for the vinegar to dry, around 15 minutes. Next, in another spray bottle, mix:
    • two cups of hydrogen peroxide
    • four tablespoons of white vinegar
    • one-and-a-half teaspoons of table salt (why salt?)
  5. Swirl the mixture until the salt has dissolved. Spray it onto your metal scraps and they will turn rusty as you watch. Allow the rusty metal to dry, then repeat as desired.* Careful with this mixture, it will rust anything it contacts instantly!

“Plant” other metal scraps as often as desired to create a variety of rusty delights. You can include non-ferrous metals like copper which will grow a green patina for contrast. Rust gardens are perfect for photography, try a macro lens for the most beautiful corrosion close-ups.

Rob Faludi

* Rust recipe inspired by Bob Vila.

Madeline Blount

Dates: August 24th-31st

coder/technologist, explorer, researcher, artist. very much looking forward to meeting others at the intersection of fields at Dinacon!

currently splitting time between Brooklyn, NY + Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – hoping to focus on filming the agoutis (Panamanian cousins of the Brazilian “cutias” I’ve met!). also interested in complex systems dynamics, birds, sound, dance, writing, + any chance to spend time outside.

http://mab.space

fellow: Blue Ridge Labs

Michael Ang (Mang)

Dates: Aug 13-31

Project: Unnatural Language

During Dinacon I will create environment-specific sonifications using the Datapods (developed for Unnatural Language with Scott Kildall). Datapods are electronic devices that translate the unseen activity of plants and the environment into sounds for human appreciation. The troupe of Datapods will be spread into the jungle to converse with the environment, us, and each other. The Datapods are a modular system based on Arduino – curious to see if we can create new sensors and ways for them to interact with nature!

Michael Ang (https://michaelang.com) is a Berlin-based artist and engineer who creates light objects, interactive installations, and technological tools that expand the possibilities of human expression and connection. Applying a hacker’s aesthetic, he often repurposes existing technology to create human-centered experiences in public space and the open field. Countering the trend for technology to dissociate us from ourselves and surroundings, Michael’s works connect us to each other and the experience of the present moment.

Päivi Maunu

Dates: 21-31.8.2019

Project: Biomimeticx2 is creating a link between visual art and bioinformation on a site-specific project named the Cloud Garden in Panama.

The plan is to focus in a miniscule, 1 square meter area which will be called the Cloud Garden in Panama. The art work is a continuation of The Cloud Garden in Harakka island in Helsinki founded in 2015.

The project will transform into Community Art when we are kindly requesting other conference members to provide images from the milieu of conference e.g. via Google Drive.

Bio: Päivi Maunu is a visual artist living and working in Helsinki, Finland. She graduated as an environmental artist from Aalto University in 2011. Maunu is a multidisciplinary artist practicing Performental Art (a combination of Environmental Art and Performance Art), that she has established and advanced further since 2010.

She has participated in several international performance festivals such as Live Action Venice, Venice Biennale 2015, 2017 Preview Week and environmental conferences such as Digital Naturalist Conference in Thailand in 2018.

Päivi Maunu is a one of the founding members of art and research groups Nature&Art Post Scriptum (NAPS) and Biomimeticx2.

Mike Grusin

Hey everyone, I’m honored to be a part of Dinacon and will be joining you the first week of August. I’m hard to categorize; I’m an engineer and artist at heart and am happiest when I get to wear a lot of hats. I’ve built spacecraft and fighting robots, made costumes and movies, chased the shadows of asteroids and rare birds, and designed electronics for both the space station and just to make people laugh. I was most recently employed by Sparkfun Electronics, where I was an engineer with strong proclivities towards education and citizen science. I’m currently doing freelance design work for the Boulder CO aerospace community (will work for launch). At Dinacon I plan to serve as roving tech support; if you need electronics, coding, or media help, just let me know!

email: [email protected]
twitter: @flyingcircuits
insta: mikegrusin
site: flyingcircuits.com
whatsapp/SMS: +1 303 931 4219

Kitty made a comic

I’m learning how to use Procreate, and I thought I’d use it to flesh out an idea that’s been on my mind lately. I’m going to try to make a longer comic about yarncrafting during Dinacon!

-Kitty Kelly/WellReadPanda

Agouti Duties

So, Gamboa, home of Dinacon, is also home to these wonderful, adorable little rodents called agoutis – which bear some similarities to capybaras, but have been deemed infinitely superior for reasons I do not 100% understand. (Maybe because capybaras get all the press?)

I am here to document Dinacon but also am not very good at photos. Go figure.

Agoutis have pretty much become the mascot of Dinalab – Andy is always posting insta stories of their antics, the Dinatruck has an agouti decal, etc. – so of course they needed to have a pretty substantial presence here at Dinacon.

And they do – in the form of a series of Agouti-Do and Agouti-Don’t posters hung about the lab, reminding Dinasaurs of a few simple guidelines for being cool like an agouti (and not smug jerks like those capybaras).

Anyway, they are rad – great job, Andy! – so I thought I’d post a few of them:

So, to recap, just remember: At Dinacon or otherwise, it’s your duty to be cool like an agouti. Good luck out there!

P.S. This Dinalab poster doesn’t have anything to do with agoutis, but I still feel like it captures a lot of that Dinalab spirit.