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Giant Spider in Yokohama May 19, 2009

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Built by French group La Machine, it can be seen in Yokohama as part of Expo Y150 commemorating the 150th anniversary of Yokohama port. I like how it farts out some kind of mist out of its spider butt and that 3 benign looking people operate it.Also seen in the background is Bastiaan Maris Large Hot Pipe Organ a MIDI-controlled propane-powered fire organ.

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Someone really should build a giant Godzilla to stomp around Japan though.

Via Shaun Fogarty!

More Fun with Laser Cutting April 15, 2009

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Tattoo artist Scott Campbell recently showed this work at a gallery in Florida. Thanks to Laura Mappin for the link!

More details here

This reminds me of Brian Detmer’s Book Autopsies from a couple of years ago!

Mercury Fountain April 13, 2009

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At brunch before the dorkbotSF tank tour we were talking about mercury and how some of us remembered as kids how we would play with it with our bare hands and clean coins with it as long as we washed our hands afterwards. Someone mentioned Calder’s Mercury Fountain at the Miro museum in Barcelona which also used to be flowing openly in public but now apparently enclosed in glass.

I’m not sure what is more amazing here, the fountain or the youtube debate on grammar below it.

Sea Change by George Cutts April 12, 2009

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Video of Sea Change in motion

For all the nifty kinetic sculptures we dorks make, sometimes you see an artist who just knows how to get it right. I went to Storm King Art Center on Friday and had a marvelous time walking around the landscape amidst 40′ sculptures. We were playing the “How would this sculpture wander about if it was alive” game. Rounding the hill, we came across a sculpture and said, “Well, that one would just do as it is doing.”

Sea Change is a kinetic sculpture by George Cutts, a british sculptor who takes his inspiration from “landscape, plant growth, light and water.”

This is what the Storm King website has to say:
“Visitors to the north trail are now greeted by the sight of two tall, slender stainless steel tubes anchored to a motorized stainless steel disk turning slowly, creating the impression of fluid movement. This unique, lyrical, motorized stainless steel sculpture was inspired by the currents and waves of the sea, as experienced by the artist, who is also an experienced-scuba diver.”

We sat and watched it, moving around it to see different angles. Fantastic.

Glenn Marshall’s Graphic Synthesizer pr0n April 8, 2009

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Processing nerds, gawk:

Graphic Synthesiser Demo
from Glenn Marshall on Vimeo.

Sex Life of Robots April 8, 2009

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Still from The Sex Life of Robots

I am off gallivanting in NYC this week, hence my recent silence on the blog. I saw something at the museum of sex the other day that was just wonderfully dorky. Artist Michael Sullivan has created an awesomely creepy stop motion animation called The Sex Life of Robots. It is reminiscent of Svankmeyer or The Brothers Quay. There is also a short interview with him. Interestingly enough, according to Wired, youtube decided that his video was definitely NSFW, and booted it off. It seems like there are a few clips out there, still, and Wired was kind enough to repost it for the rest of us. Here are some stills from the movie plus explanations of his process and some great artist comments. Check it out.

Trimpin’s Sheng High (dorkbotSF Tour) March 27, 2009

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About 15 lucky dorks were invited by sound artist and kinetic sculptor Trimpin for a private preview of his latest installation Sheng High which was premiering the following day at the Nelson Gallery at UC Davis. It will be at the Nelson from March 26 – May 17. Viewing hours are 6-8 pm daily. The address is:

The Richard L. Nelson Gallery & The Fine Arts Collection
University of California, Davis / Art Department
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

It’s an amazing piece where he converts music into a circular notation using 5 different software and many manual processes to create pie shaped piano-player type sheets with reflective material denoting the ‘notes’. The reflective material triggers sensors on a rotating arm to actuate motors which lift and dip several faux-boo poles into water, where the displacement of air within the pipes from the changing water depth produces the sound which is supposed to emulate a sheng which is a Chinese reed instrument. In a nod to Nancarrow who usually puts Hello into his player piano scores like an audio easter egg, Trimpin also plays Hello on the Sheng High

More images and video will be compiled in this dorkbotsf tour archive page!

Peter Esmonde has also just completed a film on Trimpin called Trimpin: The Sound of Invention which premiered at SXSW this year. For news on the movie and screening schedule, see the film’s blog

Outrun March 23, 2009

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Previous dorkbotSF presenter and dorkbotsocal overlord Garnet Hertz outdoes himself again with Garnet-enhanced Outrun, an arcade driving game that he modified to take GPS info from an iPhone and render it on the screen. To make it even more challenging and dangerous, the cabinet will also be drivable!

And as a future feature, if there are pedestrians with iPhones hopefully there’s not much latency in rendering them so they don’t get hit 🙂

This is what the cabinet looks like:

More pix on Garnet’s flickr set here

saving us from SCIENCE! March 22, 2009

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Stills from Electric Earthquake animation

Electric Earthquake!

I was fussing around on the Internet Archive today (a nice cloudy day Saturday activity) and came across some great old videos. Old insanely sexist coffee commercials and surreal advertisements with cigarettes doing square dances. Totally wierd. One of the most fascinating, however, was an old superman cartoon. Basic story according to the Archive: A mad scientist attempts to blow up Manhattan. Lois Lane investigates and Superman saves the day. It’s nine minutes long and totally worth watching.

A couple interesting points…
– My favorite quote: “Maybe modern science will make you think differently!” This cartoon was produced in 1942. This is the year America landed in Europe and it is also the dawn of the Manhattan Project. Mad science is in the popular imagination: is science out of our control? In 1942, Kurt Vonnegut published “Player Piano”, a dystopian view of a world run by machines. Isaac Asimov also published the 3 Laws of Robotics in the story “Runaround,” as well as the first Foundation story. Robert Heinlein published the story “Waldo”, which dealt with the dangers of not thoroughly testing new technologies (and included broadcast power, radioactivity, and massive remote controlled machinery) . Who can save us? Superman!

– The mad scientist is Native American and is threatening to blow up Manhattan unless it is “vacated.” An interesting bit of xenophobia. Native Americans aren’t generally portrayed as loner mad scientists. Is this transference of some sort from other dark skinned peoples? The Japanese? Jews?

– Oh, the wonderful machines! Massive sparks and dials and cables. The lab is located underwater and there is a special elevator to get down into it. The scientist’s master machine is huge and has a tesla coil with dials and tubes! It may have been inspired by the Tesla Oscillator (also called The Earthquake Machine), though that was a thoroughly mechanical device. There are certainly enough high voltage sparks to invoke Tesla. Hooray, Modern Science!

– One of the most striking things about this bit of animation is the styling. It is gorgeous. All hand painted, of course, and full of beautiful color gradients and wisps of fog and water lapping. It really made me think about what we lost in the rise of flat animation during the 70s and 80s and in later computer generated imagery. Animation may be cheaper to create now, but I would love to have one of the cells from this.

So, a lot of thoughts from a little nine minute clip.

Paparazzi Robots March 21, 2009

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Artist Ken Rinaldo‘s latest, Paparazzi Bots are three human-sized autonomous robots that know which people to take pictures of and which ones to ignore. Now the Internet famous have more opportunities to be taken down a notch or two when ignored by humans AND robots.

There are more images here and videos here