The EyeWriter

In case you haven’t already seen it floating around the interwebs, I had to post it.

Members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities have teamed-up with a legendary LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist, named Tony Quan, aka TEMPTONE. Tony was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, a disease which has left him almost completely physically paralyzed… except for his eyes. This international team is working together to create a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that will allow ALS patients to draw using just their eyes. The long-term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art.

This project, which I’ve posted about before, was developed using OpenFrameworks, a cross platform c++ library for creative development (somewhat similar to Processing, which uses Java as its base), is hugely inspiring. A project like this shifts the role of the artist / the programmer / the open-source advocate in a really interesting way.

Not that we have the technical skill base to develop anything near this in terms of software / hardware, but this project is a perfect example of why I still get excited by the idea of working in that medium.

Light Painting by SWEATSHOPPE

SWEATSHOPPE is a new multimedia performance collaboration between Bruno Levy and Blake Shaw that works at the intersection of art, music and technology. Their project, Light Painting, is pretty slick, using a LED-tipped paint roller along with some custom software and projector to reveal a video projection through painting movements.

[via today and tomorrow]

Nerd Alert: could be amazing. The idea is to create a visual Web-based library of componentized instruction sets, “building blocks,” for doing various hardware and software constructions. Put a bunch of these components together, and you have all of the instructions you need to execute a multi-part project.

So, that crazy project you’ve always wanted to do but were never sure how to even start it might finally be able to be realized, if Bildr can come together. The thing is, it will require a lot of input from a ton of knowledgeable people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve spent hours on Google trying to find the exact right answer to a problem I’d been having, whether in PHP, Perl, or Max, but it wasn’t always just finding the right answer, it was trying to figure out how to ask the right question.

Something like Bildr could fix that… by allowing you to assemble your own set of instructions from those little modules of instructions, things could be a lot easier. However, in some ways, it still requires you to know exactly what it takes to do what you want to do, and for me this has always been the gap. How do you know what needs to be asked to solve a specific problem?

Bildr is just starting up and looking for expertise, so you if you know how to do some little bit of programming or building or if you have a very specific knowledge subset of LEDs, for example, contact them.

[via Make]

Interface for our Text Projection Tool


A few hours before we were set to do the 100 Ways to Save the City project, we decided we wanted to make it interactive in some way. I had gone ahead and put all of our ideas on how we might suggest saving the city into a nice Keynote presentation that we could easily play and have that project, but it really limited what the projection could be.

When it came down to actually figuring out how exactly to do this though, we were a bit unsure. There was nothing that I could think of that would do this fairly simple thing we wanted: input controls for basically just text on the laptop screen, and then displaying the resulting text on the projector. So, I went searching through old project files from Quartz Composer, Processing, and Max/MSP/Jitter.

It’s been a while since I’ve worked in any of those programs, and so I was a bit rusty. I knew that I had seen something like this before, and it seemed to me that somewhere I had already hacked together the exact thing we needed. I found the Max patch that detected the dominant colour in a video signal and then overlayed the word on the video (for example, Red), dynamically resizing the text depending on the intensity of that colour, which seemed hopeful, but ultimately didn’t have any manual input.

Finally, I found what I was looking for. It was based on a tutorial on Cycling74‘s website, meant to be dynamic subtitling or something like that. I downloaded the tutorial, changed what I needed and it worked for our performance. Since then, I’ve cleaned it up, got rid of the live video part we didn’t need and simplified the functionality. This was probably the first time that I was in a situation that proved Max/MSP/Jitter’s strengths—quick prototyping, troubleshooting, finessing that ca quickly lead to performance. If you have Max 5, you can download the patch, I’m not sure if it works with 4.6.

This might come in handy this week, depending on what we take on in Peterborough.

Turning Crisis into Opportunity

Firefox Plugin that changes the word crisis into opportunity

See the Opportunity developed by Leo Burnett Lisboa and Arc Lisbon is a Firefox plugin that automatically replaces the word crisis with the word opportunity throughout your internet travels.

Not unlike Steve Lambert’s Add-Art, this is another great use of the extensibility that is the Firefox plugin framework.

What are those plugins written in? Does anyone know how to do this? I think developing a Windsor-specific plugin could be a great summer project.

[via Scott Burnham]

Transborder Immigrant Tool

Transborder Migrant Tool

Hundreds of people have died crossing the U.S./Mexico border due to not being able to tell where they are in relation to where they have been and which direction they need to go to reach their destination safely. Initiated by Ricardo Dominguez, co-founder of Electronic Disturbance Theatre and a former member of Critical Art Ensemble, Transborder Immigrant Tool is a cellphone-based software application being developed using the Virtual Hiker Algorithm created by artist Brett Stalbaum to guide immigrants across the US/Mexico border as safely as possible.

I recently saw Ricardo speak at the inter(discplinaries) conference, which was rather incredible, and he mentioned this project in some greater detail than what I’d seen online. This project in particular struck my interest a while ago on my Internet travels, and I’ve been meaning to post about it, but was only recently reminded by the post on Networked_Performance.

Eye Toy: Graffiti with your eyeball

Graffiti Research Lab, FAT Lab, and a number of likely affiliated technologists, artists, and graffiti writers are spending the week working on an eye-tracking system attached to a pair of plastic frame glasses to write graffiti with light. From what I gather, this would allow them to avoid using those super-powerful lasers.

Follow their adventures on the blog, or on their own twitter-esque microblogging tool, fucktwitter, based on the free software, Laconica.