Sunday, October 21, 2007

Maker Faire, part 1

Maker Faire, part 1

Maker Faire is upon us! According to its website, it is a "two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset". In my own words, I'll say only this: who needs Flipside when you have Maker Faire? It has a much higher concentration of quirky technology and art, it's in an air-conditioned building (part of it, anyway), and -- best of all -- there is no techno music! :-)

The Do-It-Yourself stuff exhibited here ranges from technology to art to food (cooking is the DIY of food! :-)), and the exhibits cover every category: from practical, to art-that's-actually-beautiful, to art-that's-kinda-pointless, to practical technology, to technology that has no value except quirk, to technology that has no point at all. Most of the technology demonstrated here only had value as an art piece, however. Or as a proof of concept. There were exceptions, of course. I will cover a bit of all of those categories in a few upcoming posts.

For starters, here is an example of DIY art that struck the sweet spot between beauty and utility like only a few projects at the Faire did: lampshades made of interlocking plastic pieces, here and here.

The overlapping area between art and technology was densely populated by robots created by our own local Robot Group. A robot that unexpectedly appealed to my girly side was Mechanical Flower, created by Denise Scioli and from the Robot Group. The flower's inner petals are made of a steamer insert, identical to the one I have at home. Mechanical Flower's steamer insert dances, opening and closing to the music, slow or fast. Here is a video: 49 seconds, AVI, ~ 24 MB.

The tiny holes in the steamer insert create hypnotizing moving patterns when its "petals" open and close. What an exaltation of a mundane steamer! (To be sure, I don't see mine as mundane. For me it is one of the most beautiful household items I own. Its petalness (petality?) can easily inspire one to think of its potential uses for art. To non-artistic people, like me, this call is barely a passing whisper, but artistic people take things like this and incorporate them into their art projects.

More pictures can be found in my photo gallery. I will keep adding new pictures to it over the coming days.

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