casestudydesignandbuild.com
Design, Build and Installations
thoughtmoments.com
Short Film: Thought Moments
protocellcircus.com
Short Film: Protocell Circus
plainfoodsociety.com
Photography and essays
mst@michaelsimontoon.com



Biography
Michael Simon Toon b. 1977




Angels’ House, Staffordshire, UK.
Design and build by MST, 2008


I’m a designer and builder, of buildings and furniture, a filmmaker, photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, animator, and property developer. I’m the co-founder and designer for a design and build practice based in downtown Los Angeles, California. According to wikipedia.org, I am a British builder and a British photographer. My work is used by teachers, students and professionals in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, nlp, facial expressions, evolution, origin-of-life science, and synthetic biology (to find references, search for, toon, thought moments or protocell circus in those links); it is reproduced by high school, degree and postgraduate students, referenced in books and research papers, and utilized by a broad spectrum of practitioners internationally. Since 2011, I’ve designed and built a series of architectural installations for domestic, industrial, and hospitality environments. Since 2003, I’ve completed five redevelopment projects. In 2008, Angels’ House, a solar and geothermal powered home that I designed and built, sold for £2M ($3.5M), setting a county record for highest ever sales price for a single-family residence. In 2012, Angels’ House was named in a list of four “modernist marvels for sale” in a Telegraph article, “The rise of the Modernist, eco-friendly home.”



Packaging for Simmons Europe, UK. Design by MST
, 1999


My 2004 short film, Thought Moments, increases in popularity year after year, and a different version of the film that I also produced, in which I superimposed a theoretical model for the interpretation of eye movements, has been established as a viable alternative to the existing visual access cues used in the field of neuro-linguistic programming. A google search for thought moments returns pages of reposts and references to the short film, in multiple languages; English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Polish, German, Thai or Tamil, on various Buddhist, neuroscience, nlp, health, psychology, language and lie-detection websites, forums and blogs. In 2010, I co-produced the short film, Protocell Circus, which was exhibited at the Royal Society’s British Film Institute, in South Bank, London, by the Chelsea Art Museum, Manhattan, at Google, in New York, and at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria.


Thought Moments, UK Short Film, directed and produced by MST, 2004


I was born in Walsall, England, in 1977. My mother, a government carer and teacher for the learning disabled, was born in Lucknow, India, and is German, Indian, Portuguese, French and Scots-Irish. My father (d. 2012), born in Walsall, was a professional gambler, developer and serial entrepreneur, winner of a BBC poker match against the British poker champion in 1978, and UK speed water skiing champion in 1975, though entirely self-taught and without his own boat or sponsorship. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, but I remained very close with them both. My mother provided for me by working six days a week, twelve hours a day. Later on in life, my father encouraged me to be independent, and insisted on telling me that I would not receive any inheritance because he, “wanted to enjoy spending it while he was still alive,” which he did. When I turned 16, he took me to a restaurant and instructed me to apply for a job, washing dishes, which I did, and it was both my first and last job. Since then, I’ve supported myself and provided employment for others, by means of independent building design, photography, graphic design, printing, animation and bank-financed property development.



35mm photograph of Adrian and Joyce, Hollywood. MST, 1999


Illustration was my only real interest in life until I was 14 years old, when I started to take an interest in photography. At night I would turn my mother’s kitchen into a darkroom, developing rolls of film and printing photographs until the next day. At age 11, I passed the eleven plus exam, which allowed me to attend Queen Mary’s Grammar School  from 1988 to 1993, highest performing school in the UK according to the first ever national school league table in 1993. The headmaster noticed that I was a proficient illustrator and photographer and so I was employed as a freelance photographer for school events and portraits of pupils and staff. I was asked to revive the school's unused photography department, teaching my fellow pupils (in a pre-digital world) the art of film-photography, film processing with chemistry, and print production in the darkroom. Although I was not a member of my school’s Combined Army and RAF Cadet Force, I was asked to wear an Army uniform and teach photography (reconnaissance) to the cadets.



Luke, my brother, (b. 1989, d. 2006), Wales. Reverse chemistry. MST, 1993


From 16 to 18 years old, I attended the Bournville School of Art to study photography, art history and design; a course which had a strong reputation for producing fine artists, selecting only students that were already proficient or advanced in photography. I was half the average age of my fellow students and was told that I was, “the youngest student they ever had.” At the same time I was a student, I was also a freelance commercial photographer and photographic assistant. At 17, I started working for a studio working for corporate clients and major advertising agencies, which included Sony and McCann Erikson, as well as local clients in the heavy engineering, manufacturing and defense industries. I promoted my work to art galleries, and when I was 18, I was asked by the Custard Factory (one of the largest communities of artists in Europe) to exhibit my photography of bikini-clad Thai transsexuals in their gallery.



Jade and Pito, Hollywood. Illustration by MST, 1997


In 1996, upon my father’s suggestion, I went to Bangkok, Thailand, to become a Theravada Buddhist monk for one summer. I was ordained by Somdet Phra Buddhacarya (who became the acting Supreme Patriarch, leader of all Buddhist monks in Thailand until his death in 2013) and I studied directly under late master, Phra Maha Uthai, one of Theravada's great Buddhist scholars. I lived and studied at Golden Mount Temple (Wat Saket), wearing saffron robes, shaving my head and eyebrows, receiving alms every day (begging for food). I also travelled to the forest to study meditation as part of the Thai Forest tradition. Everything I learned during that time has proven to be extremely useful and valuable.



Sarah Kate, Las Vegas. Illustration by MST, 1999


At age 19, I traveled across Southern California and spent most of the next eight years in Hollywood, Los Angeles. I photographed actors and designed flyers for clubs, raves and parties. I was given office space at renowned studio, A&A Graphics (now APC), which was California’s hub for club, rave and concert promotions. They produced the now famous Coachella visual identity and are now one of the largest direct marketing studios in America.


Album for Sony/Columbia, Los Angeles. Photography and design by MST, 2000


I worked as a freelance photographer, graphic designer, illustrator, photographer and animator. At age 21, I worked as a freelance Art Director at Sony Music/Columbia in Santa Monica, producing and designing album cover art and poster advertising. I also worked as a freelance print graphics designer for Atlas Productions in Santa Monica, producers of cult feature film, Baraka, as well as television advertisements for McDonalds, Budweiser and Molson Beer. I art directed and produced print advertising for their services.



Advertisement for Atlas Productions, Los Angeles. Design by MST, 1998


In 2001 I started working as a freelance artist at the studio of 23D Films in Hollywood. 23D was founded, and is operated by, award winning former character animators for South Park, The Simpsons, Futurama and King of the Hill, and creators of animations for Tool, Tupac and Eminem music videos. I worked as a consultant to 23D Films, refining character artwork and testing alternative computer based methods for the 'ink and paint' process, which circumvented the need for outsourcing to Laser Pacific (Ink and Paint producers for Simpsons and Futurama), who had previously been employed by 23D to render its broadcast quality animations at considerable expense. I successfully proved the technique with an interstitial for New Line Cinema’s feature film, Run Ronnie Run.



Sarah Kate, Hollywood, by MST, 1997


While working as a freelance consultant, I used to photograph my close friends and family. In 2000, Juxtapoz published its Erotica Magazine which featured an eight page editorial on my personal portrait photography and polaroid photography.


Editorial about MST in Juxtapoz’s Erotica Magazine, San Francisco, 2000


In 2004, Cleopatra Records, in Hollywood, published Hollywood Rocks, a hardback book about Hollywood Rock Bands of the 80’s including Guns & Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Motley Crue. I assisted as editor and designed 110 of its 210 pages.



Book for Cleopatra Publishing, Hollywood. Editing and design by MST, 2001


I was asked to art direct and design the University College London graduation ceremony program, for the graduating year 2000. I was given complete artistic freedom and told only to consider that, “People will have worked extremely hard to be able to receive one of these.” UCL is one of the world’s top ranking universities.



Graduation Program for University College London. Design by MST, 2000


In 2004, I traveled the UK to produce Thought Moments, a short film which the British Council have accepted into their film library. Thought Moments refers to a lesser-known term used in Buddhism to describe the sequence of thought processes that occurs after a physical or mental object enters the mind, a subject that I studied when I was a Buddhist monk in Bangkok, eleven years previously. In October 2009, an unauthorized repost of the film was awarded Youtube honors for Russia – No. 5 top favorited (of all time) in education, No. 17 top rated (of all time) in education and No. 65 most viewed (of all time) in education. It is watched in over 130 countries, from Bhutan to Tuvalu, and the film itself is reproduced by students across the world, from Sacramento to Turkey. In 2009, the reproduction of Thought Moments was part of the coursework given to students for their psychology bachillerato (the equivalent of A levels in the UK, or an Advanced Placement in the US) by a psychology professor in Spain.



Angels’ House, Staffordshire, UK. Design and build by MST, 2008


In 2006, I put forward a design proposal and business plan for a property redevelopment project to Straight Line Developments Ltd. (a family property development company owned by the Quayles), who consequently purchased the site and then commissioned me to design and build a luxury home. I designed Angels’ House and assembled the construction team - Case Study Construction Ltd. I marketed the property just after mid-construction and it sold within two weeks of being advertised, in 2008.



Angels’ House, Staffordshire, UK. Design and build by MST, 2008


I was inspired by the modern architecture in Los Angeles and by the houses of the Case Study Program, a project created by Arts & Architecture Magazine, in Santa Monica, LA, that was active from 1945 to 1966. The Case Study Program commissioned architects and designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra, to create a new vision of the ideal home. I designed Angels’ House, and its contents, so that the result might be more of a singular concept, or a sculpture, rather than a collection of separate ideas. I have since developed some of my ideas to produce interior architectural installations.



Bi-Plane Lampshade, 2011. Si-Huis Sofa, 2009. Design and build by MST


In 2010, I collaborated with artist and writer Dr Rachel Armstrong (Senior TED fellow and UCL teaching fellow, 2010) to produce the short film, Protocell Circus. Protocell Circus is a short film featuring microscope footage of inanimate matter, forming into rudimentary cells, or prototype cells, referred to as ‘protocells.’ These protocells were synthesized in the laboratory and captured on video by Dr Armstrong as part of her research into new theoretical architectural construction methods. It is the first film ever to show recognizable physical behaviors of life forming from just basic chemistry, also known as abiogenesis. It would seem to validate Aristotle’s theory of spontaneous generation and may well provide an insight into the origin of all life on Earth - Darwin’s missing ‘spark’ that started evolution on its path. I edited the raw footage, added sound design and post-production, and wrote its anthropomorphic narrative (the subtitles). The film’s altered tonal range and frame rate highlights the protocells’ life-like properties, and the sound further enhances the viewing experience. The original microscope footage has no audio, and is vast in quantity; when Dr Armstrong saw the film for the first time, she asked, “Is that my footage?” Dr Armstrong refers to the film’s hypothetical subtitles as, “their thought moments.” In 2010 and 2011 the film was featured at the Royal Society’s British Film Institute, in South Bank, London, and in 2011 was presented as part of a discussion panel with Douglas Trumbull (visual effects creator for 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain and Bladerunner, amongst others). In 2010, the film was exhibited at the Chelsea Art Museum, in Manhattan, and at Google Inc, in New York. In 2011, it was exhibited at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, and was referenced in a German Ethics Council paper titled, “The importance of synthetic biology for science and society.” The film is reposted and discussed online frequently and used as a resource for schoolwork, by curators, and as a reference in religious and political forums.


Protocell Circus, Short Film by Dr Rachel Armstrong and MST, 2010


My web pages are in the highest ranking google search results for some quite broad terms: warehouse proposal (1st-2nd); desirable land malibu (1st-2nd); moments thought, or thought moments (1st); protocell technology (1st); as well as longer terms: does shaking make polaroid develop faster (2nd result, 1st for a photographer). I have several new business proposals for products, and property redevelopments; in 2010 my business proposal was used for the marketing and sale of the Capitol Garment Building, a 12-floor, neo-gothic, concrete building in the fashion district of downtown LA. I’d very much like to design and build a Malibu Beach home. The lighting installations that I’ve designed and built are available on Amazon. My websites receive 8,000+ unique visitors per month and rising, organically, without paid marketing or search engine optimization. From 2009 to 2014, my online work has received 250,000+ unique visitors, for my websites, youtube and vimeo channels, and unauthorized reposts. In my spare time, I like to play music for my wife and daughter.