Installation art – Stephen Hendee – The Last People

A couple of weeks ago I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Midwest UX conference. Like most conferences, there were great talks on the topic, but this one was interesting in that attendees got to see a lot of the host city’s attractions as a part of the conference program.

One of the local features that held my attention after the conference was Stephen Hendee‘s installation titled “The Last People” at SiTE:LAB’s 54Jeff, a former public museum turned art-space, where the conference held it’s Friday night gala.

Hendee seems to be into the idea of future past. The premise of this particular piece is that in the distant future, intelligent machines have taken the place of human civilization, and created a museum of their own history.  This premise seems to be a theme, as one of his earlier works, The Ice Next Time: Textiles and Artifacts of Dark Age North America (2026-2280), depicts historic artifacts from the early times of a fictional future.

I like the story angle. It seems like it would be fun to write a bit of sci-fi as the exploratory part of a design project. But beyond that, I really like the look of the machines in The Last People. By appearances, I would guess that they are all just cut coroplast held together with vinyl tape. Lights inside of them provide the eerie glow. Admittedly, I like the multifacet paneled ones more than the simpler rectangular ones. I suppose the complexity of the shapes indicate the level of advancement of the machine civilization. I didn’t really catch that when I initially saw it.

A cool and inspiring piece. Check out more of Stephen’s work:

Stephen Hendee website
The Last People Tumblr
The Ice Next Time
SiTE:LAB

Some things I learned about Campagnolo ergopower shifters..

campy

I have to admit that I can be pretty frugal when it comes to bike parts. A part of me likes the challenge of building something on a limited budget, and another part of me just can’t believe some things are as expensive as they are.

In my most recent attempts at a cheap build on my CX bike, I went with a Campagnolo setup as I got a wheelset and complete drivertrain sans shifters for $75. I bought a pair of mirage 8 speed shifters off of ebay without really understanding what I was getting into. Turns out, they were pretty gummy and the left one couldn’t pull the derailleur into position. Initially, I didn’t think that these were the “ergopower” levers since they were so old, and I assumed that they weren’t rebuildable. Turns out, ergopower goes back to ’92, including mine. Good news, right? Well.. kind of.

My shifters were of the first generation of ergopower, given away by the pointy hoods. (as opposed to the later, and current, rounded ones) Apparently some people consider this second generation, as the original ones had metal bodies, and these had “carbon”. I don’t know what actual Campy cannon is, because they rarely label anything, a major problem in the whole process of working on old stuff. Regardless, first generation (metal bodied or not) don’t have replacement parts available.

Not that I even knew what parts I needed. It seems like it’s mostly a mystery except to the few big shops who do tons of rebuilds. Some folks in my local club and online pointed me in the right direction though. Apparently, the “g-springs” should be changed every 10k miles, and are a common culprit for problems, and the “carrier” that the springs go in can also be cracked and problematic. I was told that modern g-springs will work in first generation shifters if you put them in backwards. The springs come in sets of 4 (per side) for about $15. So I was looking at $30 + $25 for new hoods to fix my $40 ebay levers, and I wasn’t even sure if they would work.

I gave up. I thought about switching to a shimano setup, or maybe going 1×8 (cringe), or 1×10, but the cost would have been significant. Fortunately, the manager at the shop I work at happened to have a set of broken, but good shifting chorus 8 speed, first gen shifters. One of the bodies had cracked where the lever pin attaches. I used these, and swapped one of my mirage bodies for the broken chorus one. With the help of a Campy rebuild video on youtube, I was able to get the lever apart and back together pretty easily. The video was for a 10 speed, modern lever, and had a few differences, like the return spring on top, and the posted, plastic carrier, but it was still pretty easy to follow. The only tricky thing is that bolt that holds the whole mechanism together is left hand thread on the right lever of the first generation.

In general, this experience makes me feel even more non committal towards Campagnolo products. They certainly have some good things going for them, like the ease of rebuildability, and the ability to upgrade 9 speed levers to 10. Unfortunately the scarcity of parts and information for them, at least in my geography, makes them a huge pain.

To do my part, here are a list of links that I’ve found useful in this drivetrain adventure. Hopefully they help someone out there.

Ergopower overhaul instructions from Campyonly.com
Part numbers (incl early Ergopower shifters) from Campagnolo.com
Second generation Ergopower parts and kits from Branford Bike