Archive for October, 2010

Mod Lab’s October 22nd Meeting Recap

Monday, October 25th, 2010

When Paul Mumby mentioned he had made a 3D printer at the last meetup I had assumed he meant he had procured and built a Makerbot. THAT ASSUMPTION WAS WRONG. Paul brought in his homemade 3D printer to our meetup and got it happily extruding before night’s end.

In Paul’s words:

“I spent about 3 months building in total. Of that, about 4 weeks collectively was passively waiting on parts, and another 2 weeks was spent fulltime (probably 6-8 hours a day working on it).

I bartered and traded for alot of the electronic components, and the RP (Rapid Prototyped, printable plastic) parts… The hardware in the design calls for all metric parts, which are hard to find in Canada (and more expensive) so I decided to go entirely imperial, which required much conversion. But it saved me some money and made parts easier to find. Overall I’ve spent probably just under $1000 on the project.

The actual extruder “hot end” (the heating element, barrel, and nozel assembly, with thermal sensor and so on) I purchased pre-assembled from Maker-Gear.

The electronics are a blend of a design from a community member online built around the Arduino microcontroller, and my own design. I built all the electronics myself.

We (My wife and I) plan on using it to support the community (help people with parts or items they need printing) and to use it for several personal projects as well… Also I’m hoping to sell off replicated mendel part sets (To build a duplicate machine) to recoup some of the money spent on the project.”

Ah those pesky imperial to metric conversions- I feel your pain Paul, but in the opposite way. “Imperial FTW!” says the American. Paul’s awesome lil’ number is going at the Ottawa Maker Faire in our Mini 3D Village on November 6th and 7th so come check it out!

Swedes have it going on

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

The staff at the Digital Art Centre here in Stockholm aplogize for their temporary location and look forward to a shiny new building in which art, industry and the community work together to mutually benefit from technological innovation.  And of course their City is fully behind the iniative.  In Ottawa we can only dream of a facility as well equipped as their temporary location.  All the equipment and furniture is new and it is all top quality.  The Swedes have it going on.

On to Stockholm

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Cambridge has been great. The Code people at Anglia Ruskin where receptive and interested in what we do and a few of their students/programmers showed up at the demonstation last night at the St. John’s Innovation Centre last night.  It’s really great to share ideas with a new audience.

We’re off this morning to Stockholm.

Cambridge: Meeting with CoDE

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Hello all. Eric here.  Julie, James, Adrian and I are currently in Cambridge.  Had a meeting with members of CoDE (Cultures of the Digital Economy) and got a great studio tour.  Here are some pics that I have taken.

A productive day for everyone. Tomorrow we will be setting up venue at St. John’s Innovation Centre.

(sub)Mix: Vibration Sympathique

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Not sympathy in the sentimental sense.  Sympathetic vibration has nothing to do with the personal or emotional. For Helmholtz, it meant transduction of energy, resonance induced in a body – a room, a building, a glass, an eyeball – by an external force.  At its resonant, or natural, frequency a body ceases to dampen energy and begins to oscillate with it, amplifying it, even to the point of self destruction.


A 40-minute, sub-centric mix, ahead of my talk (Bass: A Myth-Science of the Sonic Body) at this year’s Electric Fields festival.  So much discussion about bass focuses on dancefloor material, so this mix goes the other direction, collecting a series of low-frequency investigations into industrial and earthly hum, pure tones, pipe organs, peculiarities of bodily resonance, and overlapping fictions of sound and signal.  Listen loud.  To borrow Eleh’s instruction: Volume reveals detail.

MP3: DOWNLOAD (320kbps / 95Mb)

TRACKS & NOTES:

Demdike Stare ‘Suspicious Drone’ (Modern Love)
“…a dense 6 minute opening that chugs along like a malfunctioning mechanical beast, honing in on Lancashire’s dark industrial landscapes.”  Following on the heels of labels like Mordant Music, Skull Disco and Ghost Box, Demdike Stare wed body-humming sound system sensibilities and (occasional) frenzied percussion, with smatterings of occulture and Radiophonic hauntology.

Bass Communion ‘Ghosts on Magnetic Tape III’ Original and Reconstruction (Headphone Dust)
Unsettling vibrations, voices in the ether.  Bass Communion looks for spectral encounters in the crackle and grooves of manipulated 78rpm shellacs, drawing equally on theories of the infrasonic uncanny and the peculiar phenomenon of EVP.  Supplemented here with excerpts and Raymond Cass commentary from The Ghost Orchid: An Introduction to EVP (Parapsychic Acoustic Research Cooperative/Ash International)

Thomas Köner ‘Permafrost’ and ‘Nieve Penitentes 2′ (Barooni/Type)
More of the ice than about it, Köner’s geologic drone work would sit well alongside John Duncan’s Infrasound-Tidal, NASA’s Voice of Earth, and the tremor tones of Mark Bain.  The theme is The North, but these aren’t field recordings.  Instead, Köner builds his glacial terrain from the shimmer of pitch-shifted gongs.  Augmented here by a dark piece from Ruth White, the little acknowledged American electronic composer who’d have made good company for Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.  ‘Mists and Rains,’ from the 1969 album Flowers of Evil, sets the Baudelaire poem to an electronic windscape.

Eleh ‘Together We Are One’ (Taiga)
Anonymous and secretive, Eleh is a minor sonic fiction unto itself, its album art drawing on the retina-skewing experiments of Op Art while minimal sleeve notes give faint clues to method and aims.   Titles of the first three releases – Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis volumes I-III – would seem to sum up the project, reputedly based on the layering of outputs from aging audio test oscillators.  Subsequent releases Homage to the Square Wave and Homage to the Sine Wave, along with track names like ‘Pulsing Study Of 7 Sine Waves’ (parts 1 & 2),  ‘Phase Two: Bass Pulse In Open Air,’ and ‘Linear To Circular / Vertical Axis,’ are nods to both the minimalist tradition and a clinically empiricist attitude toward sonic investigation.  But others – ‘In The Ear Of The Gods,’ ‘Phase One: Sleeps Golden Drones Again’ – show a mystical side that revels in the autopoietic strangeness of the subbass encounter.

Nate Young ‘Under the Skin’ (iDeal Recordings)
If Eleh finds the mystical in impersonal vibration, Nate Young’s Regression is the sound of signal possessed, angry, and on the move.  ‘Under the Skin’ is a churning slog – submerged in a liquid-matter mush, broken occasionally by a taught screech, before resuming its subcutaneous march.

Sunn o))) ‘Sin Nanna’ (Southern Lord)
Metal with bass weight, indebted to the gravity-enhancing sounds of Earth.  ‘Sin Nanna’ is a largely guitar-free interlude, gutteral chanting like the nightmare version of new-agey Gregorian revival.  Elsewhere, 2008’s Dømkirke had the band pulling ungodly rumbles from the massive 16th century organ at Rokslide Cathedral, Norway.

Christian Fennesz plays Charles Matthews ‘Amoroso’ (Touch)
And into the light…  A 7″ offshoot of Touch Record’s ongoing Spire project (below) which focuses on organ-based and organ-inspired works.  2300 years on, the pipe organ still mystifies.  An acoustic synthesizer, one of the earliest machines, it’s clearly been designed to direct force at the body as well as emit musical notes.  “Audible at five miles, offensive at two, and lethal at one,” was the contemporary description of the 10th century organ at Winchester said to require 70 men to operate its bellows.  Note the mastering credit on this release: Jason Goz at Transition Studios – the name attached to virtually every foundational dubstep release between 2003 and 2006; dubcutter for Jah Shaka, Mickey Finn, Grooverider, DJ EZ, Mala, Loefah, kode9…  London bass flows through Transition.

BJNilsen ‘La Petite Chapelle – Rue Basses’ (Touch)
An excerpt from Spire: Live in Geneva Cathedral, Saint Pierre (2005).  From the notes: “In a duet with himself, BJNilsen moved back and forth between organ and electronics.  He established a link between the old sound inherited from centuries past and a new one being instantly generated.  The organ sound was decomposed and in a way, tortured, in order to get at the core of the sound… BJNilsen’s piece ended with a background organ sound, as if to remind us that after all, even if altered, the organ had remained the core of the entire concept.”

Paul Jasen is a PhD candidate in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University.  His research focuses on low-frequency sonic experience.  He also DJs under the names Autonomic and Mr. Bump.  Writing and mixes at Deeptime.net & Riddim.ca.

Cambridge

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Arrived in Cambridge and looking forward to meetings with the Anglia Ruskin University’s, Creative Economy department and of course doing the first set up for the Firmament exhibition at the St John’s Innovation Centre

Donna Legault can see my heart beat

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Donna Legault has been working away in the lab in preparation for her role in the Prototype show during Electric Fields and had a fantastic discovery. Her work uses a PureData pathc to pitch shift sounds in the in-audible range and pumps those frequencies into stripped down speakers. The very very low frequencies make the speakers move alot but they don’t make sounds we can hear.

As she was working away today testing different arrangements she connected a few dots that make you head spin. When you come into contact with the negative side of the basic RCA input into her computer the speakers replicates the beat of your heart with their movement. The trick is that the PureData patch is pitch shifting the sound into an inaudible range, so this is not a magnificent of the sound of your heart, but rather a physical manifestation of the current in your body. We assume this is similar to the tech principal behind Rafael Lozano-Hemmer “Pulse Room” project, which makes the current visible through lights, but seeing the movement of the speakers and knowing that this is based not on the sound of your body but the energy moving is amazing

An Interview with curator and CRUMB co-founder Sarah Cook

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Rethinking Curating - Graham and Cook

What can curators of contemporary art learn from the distributed and participatory systems of new media art? Sarah Cook and Beryl Graham, co-founders of CRUMB (The Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss, www.crumbweb.org), are the authors of the recent volume Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media (MIT Press). While in residence at SAW video in Ottawa, Sarah Cook took a pause from a flurry of activity to expand upon concepts evoked between the covers of the book and during her presentation at the National Gallery of Canada. As Nathaniel Stern observes in his review (http://rhizome.org/editorial/3617) of this collaborative work (authored with drafts exchanged via email and Wiki), the number of examples and citations provide a provocative constellation of possibilities. They argue that the connectivity of new media art challenges default modes of artistic authorship and curatorial operation and points towards new metaphors and modes of curating as a distributed activity.

Artengine: If we use your metaphor of the art world as distributed network model, how can curators distribute their activities through that network and operate between the many contexts that exist within it? What means are available?

Sarah Cook: There are two angles or entry points to this question for me: one is to look at open source methodologies, allowing someone else to take an idea and do it better; the other is about distributing your own curatorial practice to a group of people or to different nodes in the network, so that they each enact part of it.

Attribution within open source software development is a really key feature of the field because every change to the code is annotated, footnoted, explained and authored and you can track back through all of that and find out why things were changed. That kind of attribution doesn’t exist in the curatorial world where knowledge has been more privatized or owned by the organization, the gallery, the catalogue, the curator who is writing the catalogue essay, or the artist who is making the work.

An interesting example that has come up within the context of CRUMB is from the work of our PhD student Dominic Smith, and his use of attribution to build upon an existing artwork. He took an artwork initiated by Julian Priest and Adam Hyde that involved shredding proprietary software manuals and using the shredded manuals in a compost to then grow plants. The original work was written out as an instruction and they had this nice event of shredding the manuals and making the compost, mixing it with coffee grounds, the idea being that software manuals and coffee are the two fuels for open source software development. Dominic Smith and his collaborators at the Polytechnic asked Julian if they could take his idea and, in an open source way, modify it and give it back, or fork it off to another project. Julian agreed – he didn’t really hold any IP over it in the way that you’d think an artist would. They modified the idea so that rather than mixing the manuals with coffee grounds they mixed them with a different material and grew mushrooms and used the mushrooms in Kate Rich’s Feral Trade Café (see the Shredder project page http://ptechnic.org/ecologies/shredder/index.html). So it was a similar process but with a different iteration, with the idea that the documentation could go back into a sort of art commons — the sharing of ideas in space.

Shredder

The Shredder, shred bin

Do you see that iterative approach as related to the performance scores of conceptual art practices?

I think performance is a really good analogy and always has been for new media practice in that you can look at it as instruction-based and you can look at iterations or versions of works. I think that aspect of iterative practice – the change that an artist introduces to an idea when they make it their own – is definitely related.

You mentioned something about more collaborative modes of curating as a means of distributing curatorial work in the network – maybe you could talk about that in terms of distributing IP in a practical sense.

This is something that Beryl has also been trying to get her head wrapped around, and when we talked with Maria Lind in New York a couple of weeks ago that’s one thing we asked her to talk about explicitly. She described working on a particular exhibition where she created what she called her “reference group” made up of other curators and artists who would be in the show, but would also be charged with developing new works and new commissions for the exhibition. When we queried Maria about that idea of collaboration, she said that she asked one of the artists if they’d like to co-curate with her and the artist said, “no, I’d rather do my work” and so to me that didn’t sound like collaboration (or distributed curatorial work). It sounded like conversation, but not really like collaboration. Beryl always tries to distinguish in her writing between collaboration as having a mutual affect on one another’s ideas and actions, as opposed to an interaction which might be more directed, something that might be more responsive, you know ‘push a button get a reaction’.

Collaboration happens when you actually have such a mutual affect on each other that you swap roles, which would be the obvious way to see it (the artist becoming the curator, the curator becoming the artist). Of course there’s a lot of collaboration that you don’t really see because it’s not as obvious as swapping roles. It’s a very context-dependent activity.

There was a part in Rethinking Curating where you talked about conversation and metaphors of curating as conversation as a reflection of power dynamics that occur in the network structure. Can you say more about that?

I suspect you’re thinking of something that Beryl first wrote where she tried to make an analogy between curating and the political sphere. She uses a diagram called A Ladder of Citizen Participation (by Sherry Arnstein, from 1969) which indicates one’s engagement as a voter in a political context, showing that it is dependent upon the media, is dependent on whether you’re actually consulted or not, and whether you’re able to take an action that then affects what happens. Beryl has applied that idea in a contemporary art context to interactive art. In terms of curating, is there a way in which you could break down those roles, and think about how much power you are giving to your audience, or is the artist giving power to the audience, or is the artist facilitating a situation where the audience is giving power to each other to affect the work? It’s a bit difficult to talk about without getting down to a concrete example of an artwork, and I think it’s much harder to talk about when you’re looking at the context of curatorial practice. Beryl usually brings up Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s work as a really interesting instance where he gives the power to the audience to interact with one another, rather than just with his system, so again it comes back to setting up a protocol that’s facilitating that interaction.

I’d like to discuss something you mentioned in your talk at the National Gallery, about the way that art is getting flattened online, traveling through all these networks onto blogs and other online venues and becoming a representation of itself. Then there’s this question of what’s being curated, the object or the image? Art and information are becoming conflated, something that has happened in earlier art practices as well but it seems to be more pronounced now in the digital realm.

I don’t know what to make of it either, and I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing or whether we’re all just so used to tagging our data ourselves now that we don’t actually expect anyone to keep a taxonomy for us. I wonder for younger generations if it even occurs to them that people sit around in committees and decide on taxonomies and subject headings and that there’s a reason why sometimes we all use the same one as opposed to using a folksonomy, which has become the default mode. I can’t figure out whether I’m being a stickler by thinking it’s a problem that people just circulate the image and tag it the way they want, as opposed to actually trying to standardize the way in which they describe something so that other people can better find it later.

I guess what I was trying to point out in my talk at the NGC by showing the site that Oliver Laric and Guthrie Lonergan and others do (http://www.vvork.com/) is to point out how that kind of sharing of just the idea, regardless of its form, leads to a certain sense of tastemaking, that then can be realized in actual space with actual forms. I don’t know if it’s marketing, branding, or just tastemaking, but it seems like it makes sense to use these tools to flatten everything enough or as Régine Debatty would say to “vulgarize” everything enough so that you get to the point where people think you must have other ideas, you’ve shown you have this clear thread here and you’re interested in these things, what would you do if you had a space, or if I gave you a magazine to edit, or some other format where you would move beyond that flat screen level of selection to selecting in real space? This seems to be a discussion that’s happening a lot in curating, which could be tied to the fact that increasingly contemporary art curators are much more interested in the single artist/single curator interaction of commissioning and working with one artist to develop a project. Is that a retaliation against the fact that the group show has become dumbed down into this idea of well, anybody can put together a group show; you just get to pick all this stuff?

On Michael Connor’s online radio podcast about contemporary art and new media art (Radiovisual) he interviewed Shaquille O’Neal because Shaquille was invited by a commercial contemporary art gallery to curate a show about ‘size’ since he’s so big. So they collected still images of contemporary art works about size from artists represented by the gallery and beyond, and presented him with a slide show to convince him to curate the show. And we saw the Glenbow Museum do this where they had a series of celebrity-curated shows, one curated by David Suzuki for instance, so you take someone’s own issue as the starting point. And maybe the way to start that is through a flat process of looking at still images, and maybe the web is just showing us that process.

At your talk you also mentioned the idea of the curator as ‘future filter feeder’ and I was wondering if you could elaborate on this.

This is Anne-Marie Schleiner’s idea, which she published in an article in Intelligent Agent, an online magazine. If you only keep the part of gatekeeper out of all of the roles that a curator plays, then it’s a question of, in which types of institutions or organizations or systems is the curator is being a gatekeeper? If you take as the system the network, or the web, then that gatekeeping role is a bit like a filtering role because there’s a deluge of information to select from. The idea of being a filter feeder as opposed to just being a filter, is that there are platforms that are set up for people to contribute content to, and they need to filter the deluge of information into appropriate content. So then it moves from being gatekeeping to being more like editing. I think that’s what Anne-Marie Schleiner was really talking about in looking at online practice, and that was in 2002 so it’s already quite a long time ago that she came up with that idea.

The Eyebeam reBlog

The Eyebeam reBlog

Listening to the discussions happening in the graphic design world right now for instance, or in the photography world, it’s really about setting up a platform or a website or a blog (to use a more generic term) and have people filtering information and reposting to these platforms that act as aggregators. One of the first projects I had some experience of was Eyebeam’s reBlog. The reBlog was a piece of software developed in their lab that now seems completely commonplace which creates a blog out of other people’s blog postings. So every two weeks a different person takes on the role of reBlogger and their job is to parse through these feeds and decide what to repost to the front page. That parsing has a kind of curatorial remit to it because the feeds that are chosen for the Eyebeam reBlogger were chosen by previous Eyebeam reBloggers, so they’re not looking at the entirety of the web to start with, they’re already looking at an Eyebeam-selected list of feeds. Artists come into Eyebeam as residents or fellows and they’re asked to reBlog almost upon immediate arrival and they’re told that if they reBlog for two weeks now not only will it get them into the habit of reposting but they can also use it as a research period for their ideas, so the Eyebeam website takes on the personality of the person reBlogging. For me that was the first clear technological example of the idea of curator as filter feeder, it’s just about making your research public. And every platform, every filter, is going to have a different angle that you’re going to take on it and your role as a feeder of that filter is going to change depending upon the structural conditions of that platform.

I think it’s interesting that Rethinking Curating makes a strong point that a good understanding of art history and also the history of technologies are both necessary to understanding these processes, and I was wondering if there are any resources you would recommend.

One of the only people I know who does this well and who we at CRUMB chose as a research partner is Charlie Gere. He’s written a book called Digital Culture, and another one called Art, Time, and Technology, and because he is an old fashioned historian at heart and his father was a curate, he’s a very good academic and he understands that you can’t talk about this kind of art without dealing with the history of systems. There are not very many people like Charlie. I wish there were more. I’m working with him, and with FACT on Re:wire, which will be the fourth international conference on the histories of media art, science and technology, although we’d like to rename it ‘histories of media, science and technology in art’ which seems more appropriate. At the last three editions of this conference – Re:fresh, Re:place and Re:live – historians of science and historians of technology weren’t sufficiently seduced to be there in conversation with historians of art, so what you end up with is endless talks about reel to reel tape and early film and punch card systems but you really want to have the laboratory life ideas and science communication ideas. What I’ll be working on for the next year is trying to identify the people who can address those crossovers. I would point to somebody like Sherry Turkle, I would point to people who are sociologists and anthropologists by training and who look at the impact of technology on life and on culture and understand art as an extension of that.

Charlie Gere - Digital Culture

Charlie Gere - Digital Culture

Charlie Gere - Art, Time and Technology

Charlie Gere - Art, Time and Technology

In terms of how curators can become more familiar with the histories of technology I still draw a blank a little bit because the danger of suggesting any one text on the history of technology over another is that you prioritize the technology as tool and so you learn about the technology from the perspective of its use value, as opposed to learning about it from the perspective of its sociological impact, its cultural value. So I’d be more inclined to find the sociologist and the cultural theorists who understand technology’s role in culture rather than a really great historian of technology. This could be an ongoing debate, and something I would be interested to work more on. You have to almost go as far back as the Futurists; they understood the cultural impact of technology and they were grappling with the history of technological innovation. The danger is taking one without the other. So we should look at moments in history where there is an interesting synthesis that can inform our practice.

Do you think it’s as important for it to be a cross disciplinary discussion for the technologists?

Well I think technology historians or cultural analysts of technology today are aware of it and again I come back to this ambivalence I have about the graphic design world. For example Bruce Mau curated a show called Massive Change and what we saw in that show is the cultural impact of technology on graphic design, i.e. data visualization, databases, representation! It seems to me to be of as much interest to technology people as it is to art historians. If we’re going to see more things like that then I don’t see why technologists or people who are studying technology wouldn’t be interested in art.

Is that related again to an inability to seduce people to new media art from the other side of the art world?

It could be, and it also could be that we forget that curators are individuals with individual tastes, and so the inability to seduce the visual arts or contemporary art world towards new media art could equally be because some of us have prioritized the techy aspects of new media, and not the systems or the algorithmic aspects or those things that the visual art world was in to at the time. If we had prioritized the interesting network or the visualization or the potential for sharing, or some of these other things that new media art has taught us, then we might have had better luck, but it was just the way it went.

In England somebody says to me every year, ‘why hasn’t there been a Cybernetic Serendipity 2?’ It will happen, one day. Maybe that comes back to the idea of redo-ing shows in a better way, but why are we more interested in Cybernetic Serendipity now than people were then? Or are you just going to do a CS2 because you feel like you should, because the art world should have paid attention then? I don’t want to be involved in the show if that’s the reason for it. Then it becomes a revisionist art history, you missed it the first time we’ll give you a second chance, it’s good for you!

Why do you think there’s a resurgent interest in cybernetics and systems thinking?

Oh just because it now applies to business models and everything else. It applies to the disappearance of bumblebees and the fall of Lehman Bros and all of that is tied to the ideas of systems and networks. It’s just entered the public consciousness in a different way now.

Slow Flow trip down the Whanganui River

Slow Flow trip down the Whanganui River (picturing Julian Priest), photo by Trudy Lane.

I was in New Zealand last year and went on a canoe trip down the Whanganui river (organized by the aforementioned artist, Julian Priest), and the point of the trip was to unplug, and go at the speed of the flow of the river, the speed of conversation. It was a trip sponsored by a media arts organization, and there were technologists and media artists on the trip carrying loads of waterproof gear. The whole point was to think about other ways to see the world. This idea of networked thinking came up because sitting in this canoe with all these people you become a network but we were also visiting sites where communities had tried to create new ways of living, like failed hippie communes and Maori communities who reclaimed their land from the government, and what I really learned on that trip was that this idea of network thinking can be incredibly local as well as global. You can try to create a network amongst a small group of people in a particular time and place and you might not be aware of another group that’s doing the same thing at the same time, and what we tend to think now is that you must know about each other because you’re all part of the same global network, but the fact is that the networks can become much more localized and isolated.

So I don’t know why people are more interested in network thinking except that it’s impacting their lives differently and they’re recognizing that the global network is not going to save them – in fact it’s going to do them in. And that to go back to a local network is actually far more rewarding, on a very human social level. Maybe that was the lesson of being in New Zealand, witnessing local networks that had failed in an earlier time, and wondering – would they succeed today given what we know now about how global networks work?

This interview was conducted in May 2010 by Felicity Tayler and Corina MacDonald

Mod Lab’s October 6th Meeting Recap

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Awesome turn out to Wednesday night’s meetup; Nigel Vezeau brought in and demoed a few of his projects, Andrew Plumb instructed a group on the Makerbot, Derek Ledoux and Justin Dempsey from the Ottawa indie gamer group the Dirty Rectangles came and made LED throwies and I brought in an electronic toy I made with Jimmie Rodgers a while back.

Living near the Queensway in Ottawa can be hard on the ears so Nigel created an arduino-based device that measures sound in close intervals. With it he hopes to make a 3D map of sound levels coming from the freeway to discover pockets of quiet and best places to be when you live near the freeway.

It’s mounted on a stick so that he is able to take readings from ground to as high as he can reach with the stick to get a more comprehensive view of the sounds. The microphone is so sensitive that in order to have it mounted and not picking up footsteps and other extraneous sounds he padded it with foam.

Nigel also demoed the data from a project of his that incorporates mapping the bike trails of Ottawa on Google Earth with a GPS so that you can see what parts of the trails are good and what parts need work. In the picture the bad spots are in red, ok spots in yellow and good spots in green:

Andrew demoed his Dremel Flex-Shaft Mount, which is a useful addition to the Makerbot tool set, allowing you to etch pcb’s from the comfort of your own home (or wherever your Makerbot is):

And I brought in what is affectionately called a “Creepy Cave Crab”- a light-sensitive sound generating creature that Jimmie laid down the schematics to and I built:

The variously sized photocells lining it’s back allow for the difference in tones generated when light is shined on it. There is an audio jack in the back that allows you to hook it up to a mini speaker to hear it’s sound. The eyes, comprised of 2 RGB LEDs, give off their own light so even in complete darkness it produces a hum. When it’s exposed to bright light it screams until it’s covered again. It can be played like an instrument if you have a small flash light too! Here’s a video of two of them in action. Super fun.

Review: Queen Elizabeth in 3D, CBC, premiered September 20, repeated September 22 & September 25, now on my TiVo foverer for when we have company, and on the CBC Website

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The attendant at the Post Office seemed royally defeated. She had seen Queen Elizabeth in 3D one week before I showed up asking if they still had free 3D glasses. I had TiVo’d the broadcast and watched it without the special eye-wear as I was promised at the beginning of the show there would be stuff for me too: “If you don’t have 3D glasses, there’s still lotsa spectacular footage to see”. Back to the Post Office, this poor women had probably been quite the cheerleader for the world premier offering the glasses to anyone showing up at the counter.  But she had been less then impressed with the program and in retrospect it seemed she regretted hyping it so much.

The lead-up (the story of the found footage) to the actual 3D footage is slightly annoying but I guess necessary when one needs to stretch (what seems like) 4 minutes of 3D footage into one hour of TV. The 3D footage is nice, although crowds shots, which there are a lot of, are not that interesting and seem, well, flat. The Queen in 3D, and I mean the actual Queen in 3D, up close, which you see somewhere midway through the broadcast, is really very nice.

Not in 3D, but well worth mentioning is a black and white short clip of the princess reading her pledge, looking strait in the camera. Also worth noting, the part where the story of her coronation – which was a big deal  – and its meaning is told.  TV set sales rocketed for the event even though she became queen in 1953 at a time when Britain was still “dead poor”.

Canada Post will be distributing free CBC 3D glasses at post offices across Canada while supplies last.

http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/QE3D/

Bonne nuit mes poussineaux, bonne nuit mes poussinettes,

Crystal Doré