Category Archives: community

community concept funding Interactivity

Introducing our Karaoke Rickshaw!

Through-Street Deployment 1(1)

We are excited to announce that we received a microgrant from Metro for a new project: Karaoke Rickshaw!! Our Karaoke Rickshaw will join efforts with a couple of other mobility-related art projects funded through Metro’s Rideshare Program to amplify creative responses to collective mobility in Los Angeles.

Traffic blues and ride anthems?!

During the Rideshare Week in October 2015, we will stage a nomadic series of participatory karaoke events through the streets and at transit hubs such as metro stations, bus stops, sidewalk, parklets and plazas, including a cyclist-centered event supported by a ride led by Flying Pigeon. Through song performances and interviews, ride-sharers and commuters will share journey stories and provoke ideas and visions for co-mobility in LA. We are collaborating with students from Occidental College’s Center for Digital Liberal Arts to document ridesharers’ stories.

Our Rickshaw Schedule:

  • Tuesday, October 6
    Stationed at Wilshire/Western Metro Purple Line Station, 7-10am.
    Procession from Koreatown to Hollywood, 2-5pm
  • Friday, October 9
    Chinatown, Sun Yat Sen Plaza, 2-4pm
    Procession from Chinatown to Innovation Week, Pershing Square, 4-9pm; ride coordinated with Flying Pigeon. Details soon!

On-the-hour schedule will be tweeted in real time from @movablepartpart the day of the event.

In the mean time, follow the metro #ShareTheRide hashtag on Twitter for updates. We will be posting information specifically related to the mobile karaoke using #MovableKaraoke.

Facebook event:



community event lecture

Movable Parts Presents a Lecture on Media & Social Interactivity at UCLA

MP Talk @ UCLA 131204


View slides from our presentation at UCLA

Movable Party + DanceLAvia on October 6th!



The L.A. Bike Trains & The Bodacious Bike Babes
proudly present:

/ danceLAvia /
It’s like cicLAvia, but you dance in the street for 6 hours straight.
9AM – 3PM
@ Broadway & Temple
Downtown LA

We have Pedal-Powered Speakers (big ones!). We’ll need volunteers to help power up the generator with good ol’ fashioned fuel – your legs! Thanks to our buddies at Movable Parts!

We are taking over the intersection for the whole day! The intersection is the beginning of the mandatory dismount zone, which people do not like to do. Hence – DanceLAvia was born – Dismount and Dance!!!

Once upon a time, CicLAvia Wilshire edition (June2013) DanceLAvia was born. Sequins sparkle shorts debuted to much acclaim. Dancers of all ages, shapes and sizes joined our streetside shimmy. So we’ve decided to do it again.

Come down on Sunday and shake it with two great organizations. AND if you’re feeling supremely bodacious, we encourage you to come and volunteer with us for an hour or two, we could definitely use the help. AND if you’d like, you can even play DJ for 30-60 minutes – prepare a playlist on your smart phone!

Things you may or may not see at the BBB+LA Bike Train intersection:
Jammypacks; Sequins; Kittens; Short shorts; James Jameson; Rainbows; Foam fingers; Neon; Puppy Chow; Mandatory Dismounting; Babes; Foxtrot; Milkshakes; Whistles; Glitter; Birds

Facebook event:

community documentation movableparty

Joe on LA River & issues of transportation + transportation

Listen to Joe talk about the LA River in light of issues of transportation & gentrification in Los Angeles —  part of our #movableparty and forum on LA Riverfront at the River Bike + Walk organized by the LA Riverfront Collaborative, and documented by KCET Departures.

Original link:


community documentation event

Video + Audio: We successfully powered Movable Party 1.0 at CicLAvia!

We had a great time launching our interactive bike-powered generator system at CicLAvia last weekend! We had a stream of participants — friends and passersby — peddling to generate enough electrical energy to power the PA system for 3 straight hours. Thanks for all your labor! The video below captures a bit of the human-powered generator and the interactive sensing bike-as-musical-instrument system in action.

Also, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sara Harris on KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7FM. Listen to a short radio story on Movable Party featured by Hear in the City on KPFK, the segment on us begins at 24:00. You can hear me talking about the project while (almost getting out of breath and) pedaling on a hub motor bike.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you’re curious about the interactive media system, here’s a video of the system that captures some of the ideas of sound synthesis that we hope to develop for a later iteration of the project. Write us if you have some ideas for us!

We will present our system again this Saturday at the NELA River Bike + Walk Spectacular in Marsh Park. Come join the Movable Party!

community event partnership

#MovableParty 1.1 @ NELA River Bike + Walk Spectacular

We will be performing with our system a community ride event — River Bike + Walk Spectacular — next week. We plan to use our newly built interactive. We will power a couple of DJ sets using our newly built interactive bike-powered DJ system.

NELA Bike + Walk Spectacular

The Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative invites you to the

River Bike & Walk Spectacular

When: Saturday, April 27th, 4-10pm.

Location: Marsh Park, 2960 Marsh Street, Los Angeles, CA 90039

4pm: Bike & Walk: Explore the river and its neighborhoods via the L.A. River Greenway Trail, and participate in a live mapping project.

6pm: Community Fair at Marsh Park: Enjoy art and educational activities, bike-powered music, and learn more about the NELA RC and other community organizations.

8pm: Bike-in Movie: Enjoy a free outdoor screening of Beetlejuice in the park. Bring blankets!

Brought to you by the NELA RC in collaboration with Multicultural Communities for Mobility, LACBC, and Movable Parts.

Facebook event:


community event Occidental College

Join us at #MovableParty 1.0 @ CicLAvia + Oxy’s Founder’s Day

Movable Party @ CicLAvia, April 2013

Join us to celebrate the vibrancy of streets in Los Angeles at MOVABLE PARTY — a bicycle-powered dance party. We will implement our bicycle-powered generator custom designed and built by members of Movable Parts, with the help of students of Occidental College.

Place: MacArthur Park, downtown Los Angeles [corner of Alvarado and 7th]
Time: 11:30am – 2:30pm, Sunday April 21, 2013

This Movable Party will feature the following DJs:

J.Vu (Hungry Beat): indie pop, northern soul

The Attic Bat: global bass music

Music by KOXY

Xandão: global bass

Facebook event link:


We will also be launching our interactive bike-powered DJ system at Occidental College’s Founder’s Day on Saturday April 20th.

Place: next to the Solar Array
Time: 5-6pm, Saturday April 20th

Movable Party is made possible by ASOC Renewable Energy and Sustainability Funds, Center for Digital Learning + Research at Occidental College, Flying Pigeon, Bike Oven, and the Knowhow Shop.

community generator partnership workshop

Workshop #1: Generator & Hub Motors

Bikes with Hub Motors

We’re excited to announce the first of our workshop series for Movable Party. In this workshop, we will be fitting the bikes with hub motors and testing their electrical output. We will talk more generally about the laws of physics related to electricity, and compare the results of two different hub motors.

Place: Bike Cage at Oxy [southwest corner of the Rangeview parking garage, come through the gate and turn right]

Time: 5:30pm, Friday March 8

The workshop will last no more than 90 minutes. We will have some pizzas! Please let me know via email [hsuw at oxy dot edu] if you’re coming, so I can make sure that there will be plenty of food for everyone.

We’re excited about moving our project forward. Come and prepare to get your hands dirty!

Redirecting the Flow of Power

How many times have you gone to a charge station at an airport only to find that all the plugs are being used? Have many conversations not mediated by a cell phone or other mobile computing devices have you witnessed in public spaces lately? It’s true that people don’t engage with one another in an embodied, face-to-face anymore. But sometimes people come into physical proximity when they need something – electricity. They crowd around charge stations or sit awkwardly in spaces around electrical outlets in order to gain access to electricity.

Charging station in waiting lounge, image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by ariffjamili

A group of students – Judy Toretti, Jacob Brancasi, Maria Lamadrid, and Cory Bloor – at Art Center College of Design recognized this social pattern and took it to heart in their design of an interactive media system for a homeless youth organization called Jovenes in east LA. Working with the youth participants, the student designers came up with Conversation Space, an interactive cellphone charging booth that requires at least two individuals to step on a foot pedal in order to activate electrical current. The design calls for a coordinated effort on the part of the users. To achieve the common goal of charging cell phones (and other handheld devices critical to the lifeline of homeless youth), users must engage in a face-to-face social interaction. It could be as much as a conversation, as little as a nod, an eye contact, or a chin-up.

Conversation Space @ Jovenes , design by Judy Toretti & Jacob Brancasi
Conversation Space @ Jovenes

The design of Movable Party is meant to accomplish something similar. Like the foot pedal charging booth, our system attempts to transform people’s interactions by redirecting the flow of electricity. We don’t mean this in a strictly physical sense [don’t ask me explain the physics behind the flow of electrons, ask Joe.] What I’m referring to is a design that yields particular desirable social sequences. This design challenges power consumption, a behavioral norm in most public and urban spaces in this country, and shifts our normative relationship to electrical power from consumptive to generative.

Our efforts aim at creating opportunities to generate, instead of compulsively consuming, power. Pedaling is an exciting, eco-friendly, and embodied practice. At an advocacy event like Ciclavia, collective cycling can instantiate the power of human-scale transportation. Moreoever, pedaling comes with a direct consequence of powering a musical performance within our system. This is a participatory event that involves lots of agents including the cyclists on the generator, DJs who will be spinning records, and bystanders and passersby who may be dancing to the music. The embedded sensors and Arduino microcontrollers will interface the system to fine-tune the interactivity among all the participants.

Through a system that re-routes the flow of energy, we hope to articulate the generative impact of pedaling, a goal that involves the translation of the significance of electricity from the physical into the social and symbolic domain. We want people to congregate in a public space. We want them to realize that the outcome of the event – a musical performance – is contingent upon a collaborative process of generating power.

We can’t take electricity for granted. Electricity is not just a physical resource; it is also a kind of social resource that can be harnessed to bring people together. Electricity can be used to power communication that happens in mediated platforms. But we know that already. We hope on at the Ciclavia event on April 21, we will start to see how electrical power plays a critical role in igniting positive and communal social interactions.

* * *

Incidentally, at the airport before my flight took off from LAX, I went looking for an electrical outlet to charge my laptop.

I shared an electrical outlet in the airport terminal with a lady who struck up a friendly conversation with me. “Is that plug available?”

I said, “of course!”

She and I exchanged stories about the overwhelming presence of mediated communication in our society today. She told me that she just saw a mother and her young son of eight or nine years of age dining somewhere. The mother was on the phone the entire time. The son was left to entertain himself.

“Isn’t that ridiculous that we are so dependent on these devices? What did people use to do before cell phones? I guess they talked to people around them,” she remarked.

I said, “It’s funny that we’re talking about this. I’m working on a project that involves the building of a bike generator to power a music event.” I told her the rest of the project.

A few minutes later, with my laptop charged at 84 percent, I disengaged from the electrical outlet and packed up my gear.

Before I scurried off to board my flight, she smiled and said, “good luck with your project!”

Thank you, lady, whoever you are, for your kind reinforcement of the meaning of our project.