Filtering by Category: art

Street pi

Pi A very unprecise Pi annotation (it does not give more than 2 digits) found on the streets of Lyon. Very concise anyway. The presence of a mathematical constant.

What is interesting is that the name "pi" (well, "π") is the first letter of the Greek words περιφέρεια which means "periphery". Perhaps, putting pi tags at the periphery of things would be a new trend in street art.

Rube Goldberg

I knew about the concept but I was unaware of how it was referred to.US cartoonist Rube Goldberg gave his name to the incredible machines that perform simple tasks in indirect ways. See for instance the "Keep You From Forgetting To Mail Your Wife's Letter"

As described by the Wikipedia:

"The term also applies as a classification for a generally over-complicated apparatus or software. It first appeared in Webster's Third New International Dictionary with the definition "accomplishing by extremely complex roundabout means what actually or seemingly could be done simply." Rube's inventions are a unique commentary on life's complexities. They provide a humorous diversion into the absurd that lampoons the wonders of technology. These send-ups of man's ingenuity resonate in modern life for those seeking simplicity in the midst of a technology revolution. Goldberg machines can also be seen as a physical representation of the 'pataphysical—carrying a simple idea to a nonsensical, ornamented extreme."

Why do I blog this? rube goldberg, as chindogu, are intriguing phenomenon and surely of interest in terms of design issues/opportunities. And I think it goes beyond simply making fun of some human tendency to make things more complicated than they are. I will surely check more what has been written on that topic

Boundary Functions

Boundary Functions is a project by Scott Sona SNIBBE:

"If you participate in this work, you will see a line as a boundary between you and others, which is usually supposed to be invisible, to identify your territory. The boundary changes according to the position of each individual on the floor, but the rule is that the person at the center must always be the closest to the boundary. This line-producing program relates to the "Voronoi Diagram" and "Dirichlet Boundary Conditions", which are used to analyze natural phenomena with mathematical rules: patterns of ethnic settlement, animal dominance, or plant competition in anthropology or geography, the arrangement of atoms in a crystal structure in chemistry, the influence of gravity on stars or star clusters in astronomy, and so on. The boundary that surrounds participants does not exist on their own but changes in a subtle way like conflicts between the individual and society."

Why do I blog this? I thought it's a nice project that exemplify the spatial aspects of interactive technology.

E-Rex: moving robotic display

Some time ago, I blogged about Rob-o from LOEIL (laboratoire objet espace intelligence langage, Aix en Provence, france). I recently stumbled across another piece that I found stunning. It's called E-Rex (same naming pattern). E-Rex is basically an interactive installation made of a robotic screen ("Ecran Robot Exploreur" = Robotic Explorer Display) located on a huge mobile "arm" that can be manipulated by spectators using an spherical interface. The E-Rex device can make circular movements and shown videos/3D scenes. What's intriguing is the integration of motion and speed of the display since the video control the rotation of the arm.

Why do I blog this? I quite like the way this piece looks, it's massive and fluid at the same time.

Sucking jacks to make music

"Les poissons autistes" (i.e. autists fishes) is a swiss band that have a nice way of tinkering artifacts to produce music

It's only at the end of 2001 that Simon and Babey began again to create their own "music" (...). Struck by a sudden inspiration during a drunken night, they plugged jacks into the inputs of a tape machine and then sucked and manipulated the free extremities of the cables to produce some particularly irritating and saturated noises. (...) Simon and Babey have since then perfected their technique of sonic collage, assembling on the computer recordings of various noises made on Minidisc, instruments (trumpet, flute, accordion, guitar, bass), contact-miked objects and sounds produced by different machines diverted from their normal use (guitar effect pedals, reverb racks and other old stuff).

Why do I blog this? the mouth is an unexplored are to interact with artifacts (be they digital or not), this seems to be a good and visual way to innovate in music production. Moreover, I am crazy of contact-miked sounds, especially mixed with delay/reverb effects.


Sonotree is a curious project by Mathias Forbach (previously at ecal now at bread and butter) that the defines as "a cubic wood box where you can insert branches to do music for dead trees"

Sonotree is a music box automaton where input switches are branches. The interface between branches and sounds is Pure Data, a sounds and video dedicated open-source program particularly used in vjaying. But here, we use it only for the sound, because "sonotree" is not a screen related installation, but its programming is visual. (...) To start the music, you have to put a branch into the box. It generates sounds, change the frequency, do bass from that sound and trebles. It's like giving "life" to the dead branches, as they have something to say

Why do I blog this? that sounds like a curious use of wooden stuff :) More seriously I love this idea of letting so-called artefacts (like dead branches) expressing sounds.. so much for the agency of pieces of wood, take it as a new interaction partners.

sorta look like Bitman

Spotted this morning on a french railway station in remote small town: bitman (sort-of) 1

Why do I blog this? 1) looks like Bitman 2) it's gorgeous, the cables are intriguing, going form the ground to this intriguing flashing character (meant to prevent you that a train is arriving)

A visual code for Google Earth

Hello, world! is an installation for the virtual globe of the software Google Earth (carried out by students from the Bauhaus-University in Weimar, Germany):

A Semacode measuring 160 x 160 meters was mown into a wheat field near the town of Ilmenau in the Land Thuringia. The code consists of 18 x 18 bright and dark squares producing decoded the phrase “Hello, world!”. The project was realized in May 2006 and photographs were taken of it during a picture flight in the following month.

See the weblog of the project here. Why do I blog this? I may be an old fart about this project but I found interesting to have a visual code (i.e. a connector between the first world and the second "virtual" world) of such dimensions.

Swede house on the moon

See on BBC News:

A Swedish artist has asked experts to help design one of Sweden's iconic little red cottages - but this one will stand on the Moon. Mikael Genberg has recruited the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) to help plan the operation. The little red houses are found across the Swedish countryside, but Mr Genberg says he wants this one to become "an international symbol". He says if everything goes to plan, the house may appear on the Moon in 2011.

Mr Genberg has arranged a competition for students and companies to design a house that could be contained in a small, light package, that would open up once landed on the Moon's surface. The state-owned SSC has been happy to get involved in the project, which could cost 500m kroner (£36m).

Inflatable art and future iterations of Movable Feast

There is a very interesting piece by Marc Tuters in the Glowlab zine about inflatable art. It's actually a critical summary of the"Movable Feast/ Fête Mobile" project at ZeroOne San Jose/ISEA2006.

At its most conceptual level, the Movable Feast/ Fête Mobile project extrapolated current techno-political issues into a possible future scenario in which communities are locally connected through peering protocols while disconnected from Internet as a whole. The project was thus presented as a prototype for an arts satellite for a world in which the digital public realm is increasingly corporate and surveillance is ubiquitous, in which participants would remotely view their surroundings via an onboard camera, as well as exchange media files through a wireless local file server.

What is interesting IMO is also the description of the future iteration of the project as described by the authors: a gravitational node for a reality-based video game. The rules of the game itself will be simple. Teams, situated on playing field, vie for control of the intelligent blimp, much as they would a ball in the sport of rugby. Participants thus attempt to control the blimp’s navigation on the field by organizing themselves, on the fly, into shapes and patters of movement recognizable to the blimp’s onboard vision system. While the latter may seems a departure form the more high-concept approach we developed for ISEA, at its core it remains theoretically informed by our interest in exploring new forms of collectivity in urban space. The phenomena of emergent self-organization is as central to terrorist networks as it is to popular democratic uprisings. As artists, we have thus settled on "play" as our chosen approach to explore facets of our individual and collective relations within the space of networked art.

Why do I blog this? first because I liked the project and second because of this game concept that seems pretty curious and relevant to explore ideas related to people's relation with space and networks.

Mass storage stone

I found Michael Leung's "mass storage stone" stunning:

Mass Storage Stone - prototype, 2005 A portable 4 GB hard drive that fits into your pocket, and has similar qualities to a stone - textured and slightly cold to touch 53 x 40 x 25 mm - synthetic resin

Why do I blog this? I actually like the metaphor of the stone for an external hard drive; the shape is also convenient.

Flocked Green Jesus Astronaut

There seems to be a new version of the Astronaut Jesus: the Flocked Green Jesus Astronaut is an intriguing add-on:

Argentinian design group Doma has partnered with Hong Kong toy geniuses AdFunture Workshop to put out this otherworldly limited edition of 200 figures. Removable helmet. Let the passion of AstroChrist fulfill our lives and hearts once again.

Why do I blog this I ran across this artifact during a break after writing the chapter XXX of my dissertation, found it curious and "self-revealing". It actually made me think of all the sort of future people imagine related to religious issues: jesus as an astronaut...

A Game of Life, with fans

Déplacements is an interactive art project by Manuel Braun:

“Déplacements” consists of 24 computer case fans forming a rectangle. Each fans is “pixel”, its number of revolutions and the intensity of the light of its LED varies according to the level of gray corresponding to the pixel of reference. This screen of fans is controlled by a computer simulating a cellular automata entitled “The game of life” (created by John Horton Conway in 1970). It is a mathematical model where each fans is a cell. "Displacement" is a hijack of this object, a component of the computer becoming image. It is not a question of a physical “displacement” but of a movement, a flow.

Why do I blog this? I liked the idea of having a physical instantiation of the "Game of Life". Besides the notion of "détournement" is interesting too: how would the repetition of hijacked objects let emergent phenomenons happen?

Ian Haig's brain tumour helmets

I have to admit that I am a great fan of project about visualizing electromagnetic waves. That's why I like Ian Haig's Brain Tumour Helmets with microwave:

Exploreing the impact of microwaves and electromagnetic energy and their role in producing brain tumors as a form of body mutation, as in technologies such as mobile/cell phones. The work also explores the notion of the television as a form of 'haunted media'. Consisting of two specially designed helmets with infared headphones and a large video and sound installation and an assortment of antennas.

Why do I blog this? I find intriguing this idea of "the head as an antenna". As Regine reported it "The work addresses the impact of microwave technologies, not in order to highlight the evils of microwave technologies in society, but to engage notions of technology, which is potentially modifying the structure of our bodies, in this case through the brain tumor, as a catalyst of human/machine evolution/devolution". The project is a bit old but IMO more and more relevant.

Flying saucer in Oslo

In good rezonance with UFO-like architecture in Geneva (see here), here is the Oslo version of the flying saucer: UFO in Oslo

Why do I blog this? left over in a curious part of the city, this rusty unflying saucer is a very nice object from a future yet to come, yet to envision but that some folks there do not want to forget. I quite like it and the gloomy atmosphere around adds a lot to my first impression of steampunk scifi.

Barcode Jesus

Scott Blake is an artist who plays with barcode; maybe one of his bets piece is this Jesus portrait made out of barcodes. In Scott's words:

This is the Bar Code Jesus that I created using my first refined bar code halftone program. The bar code images used look like regular bar codes, but they go beyond the normal density allowed by the bar code technolgy. I created a bar code signature, in the lower left corner using the bar code from a Pepsi 2-Liter.

Why do I blog this? Using barcodes as patterns à la Roy Lichtenstein dots to create new structures seems to be curious. With all those folks trying to find the face of whoever in whatever, it's strikingly curious to see artists taking it the other-way around: employing non self-revealing pieces like barcodes to create the face of Jesus. What's next? This is about using everyday artifacts to creat higher-level representations.

DA/VE (insect eye visor)

I like the DA/VE (insect eye visor) by Nikita Pashenkov

da/ve was my first electronics project at the media lab. The starting idea was an image of an insect eye made out of disrete leds. The addition of fiberoptic elements transformed the display surface into a rudimentary visual matrix, which was recorded by camera and analyzed in computer software. At some point in 2001 da/ve was accessible on the internet via a network-enabled microprocessor module

Why do I blog this? I like the appearance of the device (and the internet-enabled controller).

Survival Research Labs and their motivations

The last issue of Stanford's Ambidextrous magazine features an interesting article about Survival Research Labs (heavy pdf):

Survival Research Labs (SRL) has built its reputation on providing “the most dangerous shows on earth”—it is an art collective that specializes in staging performances, starring enormous robots that beat the crap out of each other. You may think you’ve seen robot wars on television, but there’s a crucial difference: These exhibitions are explicitly designed not only to entertain hundreds of paying viewers, but also to threaten their lives.

Then the writer (Angie Heile) reports some interesting thoughts about their motivations:

“Our shows aren’t for humans, they’re for machines.” But this only hints at the real answer: SRL’s shows aren’t done for the audience—they’re for the creators. (...) Observers often wonder why so much engineering genius doesn’t get applied to something more beneficial—after all, people who can make a self-propelled fire-breathing monster from scrap could probably use their spare time to design life-saving-appropriate technologies for the developing world—rather than just blow things up. But SRL’s creators seem to feel that using their skills to play with fire is a more exciting challenge.

Why do I blog this? SRL has always been interesting to me and I am intrigued by this argument about the "why so much engineering genius doesn’t get applied to something more beneficial". Actually the author could have elaborated a bit more about the importance of stuff like SRL; even though it's exciting for the creators, there is a lot more to think about that: what they do convey relevant messages with regards to tech usage, the future of its use and dissemination and how it plays out in extreme contexts.

Virtual hole

Virtual Hole by Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec:

By employing digital technology, a virtual hole is created in the roof, through which the rain is allowed to fall through. The installation also allows the visitor him/herself to create rain inside the building, by dripping water drops on rain sensor, installed in the middle of the installation.

Virtual Hole is addressing dynamic duality of protection and exposing in a playful, naive and totally unpractical, absurd way. By doing so, it aims to create a short circuit in reasoning and therefore give space to more poetic interpretation of this ongoing duality."

Why do I blog this? I like this project as a metaphor of flows (be it water or information); the absurdity is quite good and pertinent in the sense that a passersby is immersed into a world of flows