Saturday, March 5, 2016

Calder and Schiffer at the Tate

At first glance, the image to the  left could be by Matisse.  It has the economy of line and the intimacy of expression that I always associate with his drawings.

But it’s actually a suspended wire-frame model by Alexander Calder, part of a special exhibition, “Performing Sculpture”, at the Tate Modern that we visited this calder with wire frame sculpturesweekend.

You can get a better idea of the physical wire-frame from this picture of Calder with two similar sculptures.  It’s one of a series of wire-frame models that started his career, many delightful circus acts and character studies

calder 1Calder - Aztec Josephine Baker - 1925Calder - The Brass Family

Around 1930, Calder visited Piet Mondriaan's studio in Paris, and became excited by the abstract squares of color, divided by geometric lines.  I thought at the time how fine it would be if everything there moved; commented Calder afterwards, though Mondrian himself did not approve of this idea at all.

Calder experimented with bringing elements out into 3-dimensional space, works with suspended and projected elements.  The earliest kinetic ‘mobiles’ were motorized kinetic versions (no longer functioning in the exhibition), and went on to create hanging sculptures, set into motion by air currents.

Calder 3 - Black Widows Calder Tate 1Calder 4 calder 2

These are delightful and extensive sculptures, delicately calder 5balanced, that fill the remainder if the exhibition.  Some have musical elements that ring as the elements collide, others play against their own shadows, shifting organic shapes and colors.

People invariably smile as they look at the exhibits: I blew furtively at several just to see them react, DSC09496 (1300x1117)swaying and bobbing. It’s easy to see why Einstein is reputed to have stood before one sculpture at MOMA for 40 minutes, waiting for it to complete a full cycle.

For myself, though, a commemorative mug Smile


Ulman - Excellences PerfectionsAcross the hall is “Performing for the Camera”, an exploration of selfies through the ages (Amalia Ulman’s work, which is good in this context, is shown left).  ‘Loosely grouped around the theme of how people subjects interact with photographers, the works feel self-conscious rather than self-aware.  There are a lot of small photographs, the chronologic order doesn’t give much thematic grouping, and diversions into gender and identity don’t add much.

I was taken with a couple of pictures of Claudia Schiffer, however, from Vogue Germany.  She, at least, was having fun during the shoot.

claudia 2 Clauudia 1

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Navigating our S1 audit

DSC08671 (1300x867)This starts out geeky, but leads to a happy ending.

Medical Devices require regulatory approval before they can be sold to doctors and patients.   In the US, this review is performed by the Food and Drug Administration, while Europe uses private companies under government oversight.  In either case, the goal is to check that the products are safe and effective for their intended use, and to ensure that manufacture produces product of consistently high quality. 

DSC08676 (1300x848)Europe operates under an EU Medical Devices Directive, which requires countries to set up panels of experts to establish rules and test procedures for every type of medical device.  These Competent Authorities, the MHRA in the UK, approve companies, the Notified Bodies, who apply the rules and approve devices for use.  The approval itself is a registered CE mark, which is applied to conforming product.

Thus, passing through the approvals process is the major gate standing between development and revenue.

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The gate is opened by passing three audits: one for organizing and documenting manufacture appropriately, one for operating manufacture appropriately, and one for providing evidence that the product is safe and effective.  We have been configuring and documenting our manufacture during the past two months, ‘Establishing an ISO –Compliant 13485 Quality System’ in the industry jargon.

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It is a very detailed and tedious process: we have 22 central Standard Procedures that have to be written and reviewed, nearly 100 Forms, and lots of supplemental pieces like meeting minutes, IT support, job descriptions, problem reports, training records, and company policies. 

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Four of us have worked all day, every day for the past two months to get this all set up in anticipation of our first audit by our Notified Body today.

Establishing a Quality System normal takes 6 months to a year, but we are trying to do it much more quickly: funds, licenses, and rule changes would be deadly for the startup if things lingered on that long. 

A scientist / entrepreneur / free-thinker, I have long struggled with documentation, compliance, and audit conformance in corporate environments: it is too many limits and too much pedantic detail.  Thus, it’s both ironic and frightening that I have to set up my own system and be tested on it.

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So, the audit was today and….We Passed!  (‘actual photo of audit in process, above) 

We had a couple of minor non-conformances (goals need to be measureable; auditors need to be impartial) and three majors (two for meetings that need to be held and one for selecting a sterilization vendor), all easily fixed.

Our Clean room will be installed on Monday, and we will begin producing product samples for testing in the following weeks.  But this is a big deal and a huge step forward towards creating a revenue-generating and profitable company.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Over pints in Henley-on-Thames

DSC09006 (1300x846)‘taking a bit of a quiet Sunday, lying in reading, then a shared coffee toast and poached egg breakfast.  The New York Times has been making the case for breakfast all week, with emails and recipes. There are lots of good ideas for new things to try, variations on eggs and spreads for muffins look particularly appealing. But the main m4essage is that breakfast is ‘home’: familiar food in a comfort setting, part of a cozy family routine.

I was always one for making eggs, fried, then scrambled (loose for the British and firm for the Americans), finally poached over toast.  I went through a period of boy scout pancakes, then artistic shapes for the kids, finally fluffy Western-style flapjacks early in Europe.  Sausage and potatoes likewise DSC09500 (832x1300)have given way to grilled peppers and onions, cereal and fruit to yogurt-muesli-coulis mixtures.

I’m experimenting improving my coffee and preserves.  Jams are best from the farm shops, but better coffee required an online search and some ordering.  ‘Combined with an Aero press, I can get a pretty decent cup when I make a project out of it.  But my Sicilian housemates sniff that my morning brew will never rise above ‘coffee-scented tea’ unless I concentrate it into syrupy espresso using a Bialetti Moka stovetop device.

‘Over to the Anchor pub in Henley-on-Thames, then, for a riverside walk together, sharing news articles over G&T and local bitters. 

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We drift into talking about the Oscars and the films we haven’t seen this year (or last).  cate-blanchett-watches-jenny-beavanI send a link about the Fashion on to my family.  There’s a laugh over the Guardian’s commentary, and I get a bit rapturous over Jenny Beavan, who won an Oscar for costume design.  She was wholly herself when it came to dressing up (although she says it was Mad Max inspired).  There were some lovely pictures of looks that she got from the audience as she accepted her award, and conspiracy theories as to why.

I try to get a few good pictures of a lovely antique roadster outside, playing off  of the plant and the cracked window.  Depth of focus fails me: I resolve to go back to the photography course.

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It’s all comfortably domestic, fitting with the weekend theme. Yet, what is ‘home’ for a nomad like me?  Less a place, than:
  - Where I unpack everything into it’s place
  - Where my things have a safe place to rest
   - Where I cook for myself
   - Where my 13 boxes of things are kept
   - Where my souvenirs are arrayed along the bookshelves

No, it’s most assuredly where I know that am most loved and welcomed, and where I give the same in return.