UPDATE: Turns out the show starts on September 26th, not August 26th like I originally thought!
Earlier this year, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and have begun the journey towards figuring out what I want to do with the skills and ideas I’ve developed over the last couple of years. I’ve been lucky enough to pick up work for the Kearney Area Children’s Museum, and see a great deal of potential in that, but I still feel that I need to integrate that work into a more complete ideological framework and make some effort towards understanding why I do the work that I do. To that end, I think its important for me to step away from the mindset I have been living with the last few years (i.e., being an engineer) and experience what its like to be involved in more artistic environments.
This summer, Dr. Mark Hartman (professor at the Visual Communications and Design program at UNK) and I have been working together to create an art show to begin on August 26th that explores an artistic idea through novel technologies. In my experience with Computer Science and Physics, the work itself is held with high esteem – as if the individual person’s experience in creating that work is almost irrelevant to the product and its professional or scientific connotations. However, my limited experience with the Arts have caused me to consider the work itself as a tool of expression, that the artist’s (or maker’s) personal experience and message is as important, and sometimes more important, than the physical work that is produced. To me, this is a fantastic idea, and I hope this is the beginning of a new way of living for myself.
The art show will consist of a large number of projects, all centered on the theme of “artist in residence.” I don’t want to explain more than I actually understand, so I will just say that the pieces in the show will all relate to the internal thought processes, both conscious and subconscious, and emotional states of an archetypal artist as they go about finding their own impetus and rationalization of their work. There will be a number of references to the artist’s conscious decision-making mechanism, but perhaps more that reference the chaotic jumble of creative energy that exists below the conscious surface for all artists.
My part in this show will be in designing, fabricating and installing the following:
- Large interactive wall of solenoids and EL wire. Imagine a ~4×14′ curved wall of wire fencing with 10 random objects with solenoids (‘tapping’ motors), and 5 strands of 9′ long EL wire, all connected to a rats’ nest of switches and buttons.
- Five synthesizers, each with different sensors to produce music. One will generate audio based on temperature, another on distance, still another from the amount bend in an object and more.
- The electronics design of a series of floating ‘gardens’ constructed from pegboard and silicon medical tubing (cut in short, grass-like sizes), all illuminated interactively by high-brightness LEDs
- The design of a series of mason jars filled with LEDs that each light up to mimic the behavior of fireflies
Beyond my work, Dr. Hartman will be developing the following:
- An implementation of a projection-mapping technique mapped to a field of individual wires (see this video).
- Dinner table setting that uses projectors to alter the imagery and settings in real-time
- Series of interactive paintings that utilize conductive elements (conductive paint, tape and others).
Finally, two pieces have already been taken on by other people, which I am extremely grateful for:
- Jeff Sylvester will be constructing a piece that utilizes a Microsoft Kinect sensor to display interactive imagery across four large LCD screens mounted on easels
- The Omaha Maker’s Group has agreed to lend us an industrial robot arm configured to draw text on sheets of paper as a way to ‘document’ the proceedings of the art show over time.
Parts and materials for all projects are in the process of being ordered right now, so you can look forward to much more interesting updates in the near future as I begin construction of each of the projects. Stay tuned!