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SPLICE flyerOne of the people who wandered by my display at the Winter Show was Maxx Klaxon, an electronic musician who organizes occasional music, sight, and sound events around New York. Matt Parker and I formed the “art” component of the evening. Matt showed Face of the Nation which because of projector difficulties was a little more purple than usual. Despite Matt’s hesitation to show it, the crowd responded enthusiastically—it really is hypnotic to watch.

I showed T.H.A.W., which was also well received, though by the time I came on I had several beers under my belt, so it might only have seemed that way. This is the first time I was able to show it with the sound running through a PA as I originally intended, and it sounded great. Big up to Max for organizing the evening, it was really fun.

Here’s a video of T.H.A.W. with sound:

And here’s the hair metal version:

The 2008 Winter Show

2008 Winter Show PosterThe 2008 ITP Winter Show was pretty incredible. The official count puts the number of visitors at over 2300, and I’d say that a majority of them came away surprised, even if they’d been to an ITP show before. There were helpless robots, hungry robots, drawing robots, a psychedelic bowl, a screen that fogs up when you breathe on it, devices and games to outwit the paparazzi, a prenatal Twitter interface, a spinning florescent sculpture, cootie-catcher pixels, remote sensing pajamas, birds that tweet when you Twitter, a video mosaic, and lots lots more.



T.H.A.W. Flyer 1T.H.A.W. was my PComp final. It’s a piece that explores technological determinism, decay, and systems that don’t give you feedback until it’s already too late (think the economy or global warming or girlfriends) or simply a chance to experience the destructive joy of aiming a hairdryer at ice.

Five sound-generating acrylic ice cubes are mounted on a piece of glossy black aluminum. Embedded in each is an RGB LED and a temperature sensor. The temperature determines both the color of the LED and the sound the ice cube produces. Initially, all of the ice cubes are glowing blue and producing soothing natural sounds: crickets on a summer night, a burbling stream, an echoey rainforest beat. When the hairdryer is directed at a cube, it begins to absorb heat and turn red, with a grating industrial/mechanical sound gradually replacing its initial natural sound. But the user can’t hear the change because the drone of the hairdryer drowns it out. S/he’s having too much fun melting all the ice cubes, trying to get them all to stay red as they begin to cool and return to blue. The user turns off the hairdryer and is shocked to hear sirens, traffic, trains, and the rat-a-tat-tat of a nail gun in a factory. Maybe playing whack-a-mole with a hairdryer wasn’t such a good idea after all. But it’s too late now. All s/he can do is wait for the system to gradually cool and return to its earlier state, though it never looks or sounds quite the same again.

It also has a built-in physical toggle that does a conceptual high-low switcheroo, always my favorite. Flick the switch, and all the conceptual headiness gives way to five randomly colored ice cubes that, if heated in the right order, play the opening chords of Van Halen’s Jump. Hair metal with a hairdryer. Now that’s a concept I know we can all get behind.

[I’ll be uploading a better video of the finished product that includes the audio once I get a chance to document it. In the meantime, here are some pictures I took of it and a video from Phil Torrone over at MAKE that shows it working, minus the audio:]

All BlueTwo Red Cubes

28 Minutes Later

After a Friday daytrip to Storm King and multiple marathon eight-hour discussions, all eight of us in my Applications group decided that the best of way to react to Lili Cheng’s underwhelming twenty-minute talk about how great her job at Microsoft was by getting our entire class to create something lasting together while having a really good time.

So much of creativity depends on a properly fertile environment. The eight of us created this environment by breaking up our 100 classmates into groups of twelve, running silly energizing exercises to get the lethargic afternoon blood pulsing through their veins, and giving them very specific structural instructions while leaving all content decisions up to them.

Four groups were tasked with creating a 1-minute scene from a zombie film:

  1. 2 ITP students get attacked by zombies;
  2. A zombie chase sequence;
  3. A standoff between zombies and non-zombies;
  4. The last remaining non-zombie succumbs.

And four groups were tasked with recording slightly (but not entirely) random 1-minute sound clips:

  1. A videogame is interrupted by a call from the medical center and an apple is eaten;
  2. A family vacation is interrupted by a natural disaster;
  3. A fight breaks out between two unnamed animals in the style of a documentary;
  4. Your chosen candidate loses in the upcoming presidential election.

The audio was recorded onto M-Audios and the filming was done on Xacti cameras set to black and white. Class started at 4pm and we screened the Director’s cut of the movie (composed on the fly in iMovie) at 5pm. Here is the final version, with a little reordering and a judicious edit or two:

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