Off-Topic Entirely – SARS-2/Covid19 Thoughts

I know what you are thinking. “I come to this blog to learn about making things blink, not get bummed out by health, politics, and economics.” And that’s fine. Writing this is maybe more an exercise for me than you. But my background and interests are pretty eclectic, and I’m using this as a chance to exercise parts of my brain that are directly relevant to the things that I am doing in class.

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It’s Been a While. . . .

It’s been the better part of two years since I last wrote a post for this site. The reason for this travesty is that I took a job for an abusive employer. I was working 80 hours a week, often including weekends. The breaking point was when I caught my employer stealing leave.

As my experiences withing my chosen field of chemistry have been mostly negative, and since there is little opportunity for chemists in Austin, TX anyways, I have chosen to pursue a career in Data Science. After all, I already have a good handle on the math and the concepts. Might as well learn the code. And since most of the data science world works in Python, I can use that to sharpen my skills in TouchDesigner.
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Is Interactive Art Actually Art?

 

I am writing this piece in response to a recent article on Glasstire.com. For those of you who are not aware of obscure websites that offer information and critique on the Texas art scene, Glasstire offers information and reviews of art openings, galleries, museums, and events within and adjacent to Texas.

The article, titled “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Meow Wolf,” is a scathing critique on the world of interactive art, focusing on Meow Wolf in particular, but extending itself to include Burning Man, festivals, and art fairs. The argument, essentially, is that Meow Wolf in particular, and interactive art in general, is not Art with a capital A, and that such installations are merely entertainment: “It’s fine. It works. It’s not art.” Continue reading “Is Interactive Art Actually Art?”

A Few Words on TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner is an extremely powerful and versatile tool for media and interactive art. I was introduced to this program by Tavia Morra, and got my first lessons in it from a workshop done by Daniel Schaeffer. More and more, I find myself gravitating towards making my interactive projects with it, particularly since it allows for just about any kind of trigger, and you can control huge numbers of LEDs via Artnet. Theoretically, you can control over 5.5 million LEDs via Artnet!
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The FireFlower: Some Technical Details

So last post I gave a bit of an overview of how the FireFlower worked. Today, we’ll go into a little more depth about how it was made. Newsflash – I am terrible about documenting the things I work on, and so I will endeavor to do that better on future projects! The code for the two Arduinos will be posted to GitHub presently, and I will link them in an update soon, I promise!
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The FireFlower

The FireFlower represents my second fully self-designed interactive art project. It incorporates LEDs, color theory, propane flame effects, and an interactive puzzle game to trigger the effects. The project is made of steel and wood, uses a 30 gallon air compressor tank as a vapor accumulator, and is driven by two arduinos and a custom microprocessor. It debuted at Burning Flipside in 2016, and made an appearance at Burning Man the same year.
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The Quacken: Overview

This thing was so much fun to work on! This was easily the most technologically advanced project I have had a hand in. Animations and effect triggering were handled on a laptop using TouchDesigner, with code developed by Tavia Morra and myself, and animations primarily designed by Tavia. Effects were triggered by a game called “Duck Duck Boosh” created by Tim Alexander. The flame effect physical layer was built by Tim, and the LED physical layer was built by me. Continue reading “The Quacken: Overview”

Altared Space: The Code

So it has been a hot minute since I have made a post – been dealing with the ongoing madness that is trying to find a job.

The code for this project was based on the FastLED library, and modified from the demoreel example. Demoreel is a cool little snippet of Arduino C that really showcases how versatile the FastLED library really is. The only problem is that it is meant for a string of LEDs. As you can see from the pictures, Altared Space is more appropriately described as a 2d array of LEDs: Continue reading “Altared Space: The Code”

Altared Space: Construction

Pictured above is the Sketchup drawing of the project. Obviously, a lot of identical repeating elements, which for a project like this translates to “easy to build.” I think all told, it took about 3 hours to make the model in Sketchup. From there, the file was sent to a friend who does vector work, and the pieces that needed to be cut and engraved were rebuilt there. Continue reading “Altared Space: Construction”