Laser Collage: An art form for and from the hacker/maker community

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Art Sharks by Shellie Lewis, paper collage and laser technology, 6×9 inches, 2014.

Every artist hopes to come up with an original idea, to be on the forefront of the next big idea or movement. This is hoping against the odds as the past two centuries have seen an explosion of movements, styles and schools of thought that rained down in Western art like a meteor shower.  Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and many other modern movements would originate, peak and dissipate rapidly, lasting a few decades or less. World Wars arose and crushed other movements like Romanticism or Der Blaue Reiter. There are many forms of art that we can reach into the past and mine: appropriate and carry on with. In fact, schools of American Impressionists are still working in different lineages since the 19th century from William Merrit Chase, John Singer Sargent and other painters. Waves of more recent artists have imitated Picasso and Warhol. For the contemporary artist hoping to create something unique, there is very little chance of inventing something new.

Current technologies are opening the door for innovation. Many times, I am seeing where maker technologies are being used to vary production of traditional physical media arts and crafts. Laser cutters are being used to etch intaglio printmaking plates, textiles are incorporating electronics and lights, robotics are animating sculpture, and digital media is widely available. Video, animation and interactive arts are now accessible to most of the general public. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the hacker/maker culture.

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I may have come upon an idea that can become an art style uniquely ours: Laser Collage. I have always enjoyed collage for drawing on images and materials readily available around people. At its most basic level, the only thing needed to create collage art is some form of glue or paste. Good scissors, a razor blade or hobby knife are helpful. Throughout art history, most fine art collage works have followed their siblings in painting and drawing, largely staying within the bounds of a rectangle or square. Contemporary painters such as Elizabeth Murray, Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly set their abstract works free from the tyranny of the rectangular border. Now artists in the hacker/maker community can liberate the collage from the rectangle.

Laser Collage innovates through using two things well loved in the hacker/maker community: digital vector art and laser cutters. By using a vector design, the exterior borders of a collage art can take any form. Art works can have further elements by using raster etching as well as the vector cutting abilities of the laser. Artists can utilize recycled materials. I am excited by the possibilities for this medium. Functional and three dimensional designs are possible beyond flat two dimensional art works. Laser Collage is an art style that frees the collage art to be any size and shape. This is an art form that can be uniquely ours.

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My experiments with these samples were basic in materials. I used recycled chipboard (i.e. common food packaging like cereal boxes) and a simple glue stick. I avoided PVA [polyvinyl acetate] “white” glue since it is similar enough to PVC to be a possible problem with dangerous fumes from a laser. Any glycerine and wheat-based adhesive like glue sticks, YES! Paste or acrylic-based adhesive like gel medium should be safe for laser cutting.

Using the Epilog Mini 30W laser, I got an excellent cut through the variable thickness layers of paper and chipboard using a vector setting of speed 15 / power 100 / hz 2500. The edges have a little scorch, so you may want to adjust your cutting power or increase the speed. Raster etches were at speed 40 / power 100. Etching has interesting potential for etching your collage in a fashion that lower layers reveal different colors in the design. My approach was to cover the chipboard surface first in collage elements with m glue stick and then place it in the laser cutter for cutting and etching. The artist controls the materials used, color palette, range of colors, form of the collage pieces, flow of the collage design, number of layers cut by the laser, laser etching elements and the ultimate size and shape of the border.

Creators without access to a laser cutter could use vector designs using an electronic cutter like a software hacked Cricut, a Silhouette cutter or similar machine. I have often seen owners of these tools cut elements to incorporate into collages, artist books and paper arts, yet still retain the linear borders of a square or rectangle. Shaped collages would be restricted by the width of the cutting machine which is usually around 12 – 15 inches, whereas laser cutters tend to have larger cutting dimensions. I am most excited by the potential for the medium through laser cutting technology because a laser cuts details a lot finer than a metal blade can and etching adds more potential depth to the design.

 

Inspired by Shark Week 2014!

Inspired by Shark Week 2014!

Laser Collage is my humble offering to the continuum of Western art history. Maybe I will be the only one interested in this form but I am putting the concept online hoping other people will want to try it. Mixed media elements including paints, markers, pens and pencils can also be easily incorporated. Feel free to experiment with the process on your own and please respond if you want to show your work in this medium, if you have any discoveries or develop a variation of the technique.

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08 2014

Movie Night: Revolution OS (GNU, Linux, FOSS)

It’s time for another movie night! This is our third tech-documentary related movie night, and we will be showing Revolution OS. “Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary film that traces the twenty-year history of GNU, Linux, open source, and the free software movement.”-Wikipedia

Since LinuxCon Chicago ends on Friday at 5 PM, this is an excellent after-con event to bring your friends to!

There will be popcorn and feel free to BOYB.

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Where: Lounge of Pumping Station: One
3519 N. Elston
When: Friday August 22, 7:30-9:30 PM
Doors open at 7 PM
This event is open to the public.

19

08 2014

NERP Tonight — NVIDIA’s CUDA: 192 Parallel Procesors

NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer  interest group at Pumping Station:One in Chicago.  NERP meets  every other Monday at 7pm at Pumping Station:One, 3519 N. Elston  Ave. in Chicago.

Tonight at NERP, Sevin Straus will give an introduction to NVIDIA’s CUDA architecture. CUDA uses a cpu to farm out pieces of a task to the parallel processors in a video graphics chip (GPU). [more below]

NVIDIA's CUDA , NVIDIA.com

[img: large-video-dynamic-parallelism-2-en.jpg nvidia.com]

Nvidia wants lots of developers to know about CUDA. To that end, they have put together a complete development environment. In the best of all worlds, the environment should be usable on Linux after simply running “install.sh”. It’s never really that simple. Sevin has put together a working develpment system targeting the Jeston development board. Tonight he’ll show us how he did it and some of the included demos.

A sense of what CUDA is about would include these thoughts collected from various parts of the CUDA website:

CUDA® is a parallel computing platform and programming model invented by NVIDIA. It enables dramatic increases in computing performance by harnessing the power of the graphics processing unit (GPU). A GPU consists of thousands of smaller, more efficient cores designed for handling multiple tasks simultaneously.

GPU-accelerated computing is the use of a graphics processing unit (GPU) together with a CPU to accelerate the compute-intensive portions of tan application to the GPU, while the remainder of the code still runs on the CPU. From a user’s perspective, applications simply run significantly faster.

- See more at: http://www.nvidia.com/object/what-is-gpu-computing.html#sthash.hSegwmwk.dpuf

Find NERP and Pumping Station:One
at http://www.meetup.com/NERP-Not-Exclusively-Raspberry-Pi/
and http://pumpingstationone.org/
Doors open at 6:30pm. The next meeting is August 18th, 2014.
NERP is free and open to the public.
Ed Bennett ed @ kinetics and electronics com

Tags: electronics, embedded, NERP, Open Source, raspberry pi,
hackerspace, Beagle Bone, Element14, Pumping Station One

 

18

08 2014

Beer Church Brew Day, 8/24

At 12:30pm on 8/24 we’ll start with a beer tasting (bring your favorite homebrew or craft brew), decide a beer recipe, go shopping for the ingredients, and then do a hands-on brew session with the following steps:

1) malt grinding
2) mashing
3) sparging
4) boiling
5) hopping
6) chilling
7) pitching yeast
8) setting the fermenter temperature and starting the fermentation.

We’ll probably also keg or bottle one of our previous brews.

This event is open to anyone ages 21 and over. No need to RSVP, see you on Sunday!

17

08 2014

Call for NYC World Makerfaire Volunteers!

We’re looking for at least 2 more volunteers to help out with Noisemakers (Github link) at the World Makerfaire in NYC September 20-21st. We’re getting sponsorship for a booth at the Makerfaire, and it would be awesome to have as many volunteers representing Pumping Station: One as possible.

noiseotron2

There is also a vote currently to get funding to make the noisemaker kits, which each cost about $5. The details are here.

You would get free entry into the Makerfaire for volunteering, and we’re just looking for people willing to volunteer a few hours; we are going to be at the booth Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM-2 PM. You will have plenty of time to enjoy the Makerfaire:)

Staying in NYC is pricey, but I have reserved a hotel room 2 mi from the Makerfaire and would be willing to split with people (so far the room is split between 2).

Please email me if you are interested in volunteering and representing PS: One at the World Makerfaire!

Thanks!

16

08 2014

Intro to Arduino Workshop

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Women’s Electronics Workshop: Intro to Arduino is scheduled for Sunday August 24, 2-5pm. Register on the Meet Up page. Here’s the blurb:

Learn to program Arduino using the ATtiny85, a $2 chip that’s perfect for simple projects. You’ll receive your own Tiny Programmer ($20) which uploads your code to the chip, and your first ATtiny85.

We’ll cover basic Arduino syntax, controlling LEDs, and using a photocell as a sensor. You’ll also learn about the best online resources for teaching yourself more Arduino.

***The ATtiny85 is the same chip that powers boards like the Trinket and the Gemma. To learn more about making your own wearable Arduino with the ATtiny85, check out this instructable (pictured above).***

Cost:

Workshop fee: $30

Materials fee: $30
Requirements:

-BYOB: Bring your own breadboard. If you did the circuit building workshop, you should have one already. Please bring it with you.

-laptop with Arduino and ATtiny Support installed and USB port

This workshop is for participants who identify as female or genderqueer.

♦♦♦♦♦

Jesse Seay About the instructor: Jesse Seay is a professor at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches electronic art in the Audio Arts & Acoustics Dept. She has an MFA from SAIC and an MA in Communication Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Find her work online at www.jesseseay.com and blog.jesseseay.com.

 

14

08 2014

Friday Film: “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists”

PS:One member Jenny organized a Friday night viewing a few weeks ago of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.  I was thankful to be able to watch that powerful film with others and discuss it afterwards.

To follow on that success, I would like to invite anyone that is interested to join me this Friday night at PS:One to watch the 2012 documentary film: 

A documentary on the workings and beliefs of the self-described ‘hacktivist’ collective, Anonymous.

legion

Date: Friday, August 8th 
Time: 7:30pm; doors will open at 7:00pm 
Location: Pumping Station: One, 3519 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 
Room: Lounge or Electronics Lab (depending on concurrent Writer Zen 
Garden location)
Who: Open to the Public!

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Cheers,
Drew Fustini (@pdp7)

06

08 2014

Dream Hackers Club

Lucid Dream: any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. 

A few of us got together to discuss lucid dreaming this past Sunday. Among the things we talked about were; the benefits of lucid dreaming, the possible evolutionary explanations for dreaming, and personal lucid dreaming experiences.

We left off with a group challenge to try at home:

1. Wake up earlier than normal.

2. Play ambient tropical ocean sounds.  Click here for ambient music or find your own.

3. Go back to sleep with the ambient tropical sounds playing.

With this experiment, we want to see if we can affect our dream’s setting through audio. You may be able to hear the sounds in your dream, which could place your dream on a tropical beach.

I hope to use these meetings as a way to explore how we can use lucid dreaming, with intention and purpose, to improve and explore ourselves. How can we hack our dreams to get more out of them? Can lucid dreaming become part of our creative process? Join us at our next meeting and feel free to try out the group challenge.  We will discuss our experiences with this experiment together.

Next Meeting: Sunday, Aug 10 at 7pm in the kitchen

06

08 2014

Kitchen and PS:Yum Update

PS:One Kitchen

PS:One Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our kitchen was built about a year ago to fulfill the desires of a group of foodies at Pumping Station: One called PS:Yum. They wanted a place to be able to cook and store food that was separate from the shop. Since then, the kitchen has hosted many fun events like Beer Church and a liquid nitrogen ice cream social. Within the last two months–since June 16th, to be exact–the kitchen acquired a new area host. I recently got a chance to sit down and interview Arturo, the aforementioned area host. He has done amazing work with the kitchen so far and has even grander plans for both it and PS:Yum in the near future.

Since becoming area host, Arturo has not just made the kitchen cleaner and more functional, but has also added much useful kitchenware. Recently, he bought new table and drying mats, to make cleaning up after snacks much easier. He has also started recycling cans, which he plans to melt them down for their aluminum. There was an impromptu hot dog party in the kitchen recently thanks to him. It was a lot of fun and really encouraged people to utilize the kitchen for more than just cooking. The kitchen fulfills a similar function to a water cooler at work; it is a place to get refreshed and take a break from projects to talk to your peers.

PS:Yum now includes anyone who enjoys cooking at PS:One and the people who eat food cooked during PS: Yum events. This essentially broadens the original group to include most people at the space. The high interest shown in PS: Yum is very encouraging. Future plans for the group include allocating some land from the alderman for an urban community garden. Other plans include a session where our amateur chefs cook recipes that IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence has created. Even more future uses for the kitchen include doing applied science experiments and holding cooking related lessons. Contact Arturo, Noonie, or Ryan for more information.

I have to say I am extremely impressed the hard work Arturo has accomplished in such a short period of time and look forward to more improvements and events from the kitchen. Good luck on your future kitchen and cooking endeavors, Arturo!

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05

08 2014

CNC Build Club – Let’s Talk Stepper Motor Drivers.

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Stepper motor drivers are the things that power most of our DIY CNC projects.  There are dozens of choices.  What makes a good driver?  We will talk about that.

I will bring as many as I can find, which could be a dozen or more. Gecko’s, Leadshine DSPs, Pololu, Panucatt, Allegro, TI and others. I even have a three phase closed loop driver and motor.

 

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Special attention will be given to the Trinamic TMC261. This is a new-ish driver chip that has a lot of cool new features. The most interesting is it’s sensorless load detection. This means the driver can sense the load on the motor. This allows it to do a few new tricks. One is to dynamically adjust the current. You can set the maximum current quite high, but it will only go that high if the load on the motor requires it. This keeps the driver cool, yet allows it to power through higher loads and accelerations. The other trick is stall detection. If the motor totally stalls this is sensed and a fault pin is activated. This is being used by people to eliminate end stop switches. Rather than using pots and pins to set these values, you use and SPI bus. The driver also has a very high voltage range for a chip this size of 9-60VDC. Stepper motors love higher voltages

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I have a eval board we can play with.  This board has a motion controller on board and can take the steppers up to ludicrous speeds.


The CNC Club is a monthly meeting of Chicago area people passionate about learning, building and using digital fabrication equipment.  It is held at the Pumping Station One Hackerspace.  It is open to non members.  We also have a Google Group calledCNC Build Club.

 

04

08 2014