For the past few months, I have been designing and building several pieces for a collaborative show with Mark Hartman, professor of Visual Communication and Design at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. We threw around loose ideas earlier this year for a show that explores the internal creative processes of an archetypal artist as they explore new possibilities and thoughts brought about by an introduction to the Maker’s Movement and related technologies.
I’m proud to say that after a streak of long days and nights, tons of great conversations and a surprising amount of collaboration between students and faculty across several fields, the show is now open for the public! Now that it’s up and running, there are few things that need to be made clear, and resources made available to anyone who wants to learn more.
Theme of the show
This show is about the changes that can take place in a traditional artist’s mind when they are introduced to new creative possibilities made possible by modern open-source hardware. The pieces in the show all exist in various parts of the ‘maker’ spectrum, from works that are largely contemplative to works that exhibit a high degree of engineering mentality. Altogether, the show represents a new type of ‘artist in residence,’ one who does not fully subscribe to the art world, yet does not fully participate in the engineering world. In effect, a Maker.
This re-interpretation of the concept of an ‘artist in residence’ implies a certain duality, though some may interpret it as more of a dissonance, wherein the Maker feels equally at home in both artistic and scientific contexts, yet does not claim to be a strict advocate of either. In essence, this show is a synthesis of my own collaboration with Mark Hartman; a combination of two diverse skill sets wherein no individual’s skills are perceived as superior to another’s, but rather complimentary.
You can read more about the “why” of the show in my notes from my “artist talk” from the end of the show:
Learn about the pieces
The pieces listed below are by no means the extent of what was exhibited in the show, but rather pieces which I personally had a hand in. Furthermore, some pieces were too small or executed so quickly that I didn’t feel the need to document. Maybe in the future I will write something up about the miscellaneous things that exist throughout the space, but for now, enjoy the heavy hitters.
Inspired by a store-front display created by the CRASH Space hackerspace, this piece uses solenoids and buttons to let visitors tap on, jingle or otherwise interact with an array of strange, random objects attached to a large metal wall.
Life-size human forms augmented with medical tubing and high-brightness LEDs that react to visitors via interaction with three CdS photocells. Covering up the photocells causes light to rush away from that point, while shining more light on the photocells causes light to rush to that photocell and blink out a greeting.
DIY Interactive Synthesizers
Series of synthesizers that convert visitors’ distance away from the speakers into a musical tone. I am quite proud of this particular piece and put quite a bit of time into it. All of the design files, source code and anything else I can think of is available at the link below.
Jars of Fireflies
Mason jars housing tiny LED fireflies that blink, flash and fade to simulate the behavior of fireflies in the wild. Thanks to Adrian Sanabria-Diaz for helping wire these up and building up a small army of firefly jars!
Photos from the show
All photos credit Braeden Tyma