NERP is not exclusively Raspberry Pi, the small computer and embedded systems 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.
Art is one of the fundamental ways humans express themselves and it occurs in every culture going back to the beginnings of humanity. Art therapy is a valued tool that bridges the disciplines of psychology and art and has been undertaken by Iraqi war veterans, victims of violence and other traumas.
But what about individuals whose limitations prevent them from holding a paint brush or manipulating clay? Haddon Pearson is a local creative type who is working with a child psychologist from the University of Chicago to develop systems that will enable people with limited mobility to make art. He will discuss some of the technologies and ideas that they are exploring to lower the bar for people with limited agency to express themselves.
The technology we’ll visit tonight is a Makeblock plotter that will potentially serve as the motion actuator for 2-d graphical output. The plotter is not feeling well at the moment. NERP aims to fix it, but first we need to understand the hardware and software that runs it. Andy Sowa will lead a live troubleshooting and learning session with the collaboration of the NERP Meetup.
Find NERP and Pumping Station:One at
Doors open at 6:30pm.
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, Pumping Station One
The next logical extension of the Laser Collage process is something I call The Eric Carle Method. Children’s book author Eric Carle is known for his collage are using his hand painted papers. The main difference is that you are adding paint to the process rather than using ambient papers or recycled materials for the collage art. I had a clear idea of what I wanted in this design and drew the squid and submarine in Adobe Illustrator using the pen tool. That step took me at least three hours. I used a Gelli Arts soft monoprinting plate to roll acrylic paints onto and made the color combinations I wanted for scene, aiming for a red / blue /yellow primary color scheme. This version pops out and seems more playful. I may try a version with darker colors and low intensity hues to see if it looks more realistic. Today, I was just aiming for a fun picture. My paper was an 80# weight cardstock with a hard, smooth finish. This paper held the acrylic paints well with little to no warping and dried fast. I used the Epilog Mini laser to cut and etch my drawings. The vector cutting was at speed 20 / power 25 / hz 500. Only the slightest edge of the design had a sign of the laser, literally just the plane the thickness of the paper; viewed from above there was no visible scorch. The acrylic paints had some resistance to being etched and I used speed 100 / power 50 to etch the eye and a few lines. Matte acrylic gel medium glued the arranged layers together. Boards and wax paper were helpful to press the art flat. I used a Micron pen to fill in the etched lines on the body and for the eye and some thinned white acrylic paint for highlights and reflections. I’m really happy with how my giant squids came out. This was unfortunate for anyone who was at the space today because I went around with them when they were done. It’s not often that someone comes up to you and asks, “Have you seen my squids?” File that under the heading “Because: Hackerspace.”
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.
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.
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 my 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 depth to the design.
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.
You may have seen me (with amazing help from Madeleine Klichowski, Dan Locks, Matt Triano, and Pipefitter Dave) hard at work on some very curious looking objects (like a giant coil) in the shop and electronics lab. Well, finally, we’re done– it’s new kinetic sculpture and it’s now installed at the Hyde Park Art Center, for a group show opening Saturday, Aug 10, with a reception from 3-5pm.
The show will also feature a 10 foot wide version of Red Rubber Bands (pictured below in smaller form). The new version looks AWESOME (and I’ll be sharing photos as soon as I get them).
Even more fun, Maker Camp interviewed me about the sculptures this week. (Also participating, circuit bender Patrick McCarthy.)
Nick’s latest project is a replica daft punk helmet. With some help from Dan and his PhlatPrinter Nick was able cut out some parts from his Google SketchUp Design. Dan made a short video of what they did and promoting how collaboration through Pumping Station: One is totally awesome! Great work Nick and Dan!
Over the past several decades of advancement in computer technology, a fledgling movement of computational and digital media art has emerged. Initially the province of a handful techno-savvy pioneers, today there is a wide range of tools and resources available to artists and designers, drastically lowering the barrier of entry for anyone interested in computer art. This series of Creative Code Workshops explores the sometimes-nebulous territory of Code-As-Art, bringing creatives and technologists together to make interesting, complex work.
In our first workshop, we will explore Processing, an open-source programming language and framework developed for the visual arts community. Originally created to teach computer programming fundamentals within a visual context, it has grown into a robust yet flexible platform serving both artists and pedagogues. Its open-source license has led to a vibrant developer community that has contributed to its extension into other regions of computational media, including computer vision, audio processing, networking, data visualization, and tactile media. This hands-on workshop will help both artists looking to get their hands dirty with computer programming and programmers looking to explore their creative side.
Where: Pumping Station: One. 3354 N. Elston, Chicago, IL. When: Saturday, September 25th, 2010, 4pm. Cost: FREE Accessibility: Open to the public
About the presenter
James Patrick Gordon is an emerging digital media artist based in Chicago. His work covers a range of topics in digital and computational media, including responsive environments, augmented reality performance, virtual worlds, interactive narrative, sacred computing, the cultural and social ramifications of information networking, and the convergence of art and social justice.
You can find him on the web at: www.thaumatropia.net, or email him at: [email protected]
About Pumping Station: One
Pumping Station: One is Chicago’s premiere hackerspace and community workshop. Its mission is to foster a collaborative environment wherein people can explore and create intersections between technology, science, art, and culture. Hackers, makers, artists, developers, scientists, and craftsmen come together in a collaborative environment that explores the intersections between technology, art, and culture.
More info can be found at: www.pumpingstationone.org, or email them at: [email protected]
You! Over there bangin’ yer pots and pans, glitching toy circuits, playing that weird looking pipe thing! No, don’t stop! We want you to join us this Saturday, July 23rd for an open jam session. It’ll be at Nothin’ Less Cafe, located at 2642 N. Milwaukee Avenue (right next to the Logan Theatre), from 11 am to 7 pm. We’ll have some instruments set up, but feel free to bring your own mutant trombones or circuit-bent toys (or that thing from the picture above). If you want to bring a traditional instrument, that’s okay too. You don’t have to be a “musician,” just be ready to make noise. It’s free and open to the public, so come out and invite your friends. It’s part of the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival going on all weekend, so there’ll be plenty of things to see and do in the area.
(Picture licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, by SWARM Sounds on Flickr.)
Exciting event: tomorrow, Wednesday, November 11th, Pumping Station: One is participating in Chicago’s Something New roving art show. What does this mean? This means that PS:One will be open to the public (even more so than usual!) so that everyone can come see the constantly in-flux work of art that is Pumping Station: One. Projects will be on display, music may or may not be playing, and the whole place will be yours to peruse. Come and support us in our first officially artistic event this Wednesday! (and if the show inspires you, come to our Feel the Noise Hackathon the third Saturday of this month and get your make on).