The Intersection of Technology, Strategy and Sparkle
When you cut a car in half, something primal happens. You are driven to get down to the essence of the machine and create something new, something unique.
My friend Jon Zensius has convinced me 3 times (so far) to stretch my abilities, imagination and wallet alongside him in the design and beautification of these 3 vehicles.
Jon does the hard stuff and I do the tech stuff.
The Mothership 5000 RGB LED UFO. One half of a Toyota Tercel pushing a 20ft disk. 8 people can stand up top, the car can be removed to transform the disc into a sound reactive party light.
It's a giant milk carton and bowl of cereal based on a chopped Ford Explorer. Passengers sit in the cereal bowl, which is a custom fiberglass couch with 100 pillows shaped liked pieces of cereal. You entered via a spoon ladder and exited via a pool slide.
It's a Steampunk airship, based on a golf cart. Jon originally built this with another crew. I added the leds, the movie screen with pico projector, rope lighting and sparkle.
I make things that bend and play with light.
We are probably the only loft in the world with a pair of 20ft steel beams wrapped in holographic vinyl.
When the afternoon sun hits the foil, it not only creates a surface rainbow effect, it also creates a massive rainbow across our living room and reflects again against the UV protection film on the windows.
The shed-like structure is my 2018 Burning Man project called The 4:30 Lighthouse. It’s a touch based experience machine. You sit inside and drive the light animations with sounds you create on the 3 touch based instruments inside.
The jewel hanging from the center of the steel beams is made from drinking straws, diffraction grating and 3M Fasara (a dichroic window film).
Inside the I-beams to either side are 2 different 18ft LED light sculptures made from acrylic panels and a material called acrylic ice. The blue version to the left is a waterfall and the one on the right is an RGBW mood light controlled by an iPhone.
My output is driven by curiosity. I like to learn how to do new things. I'm always an amateur, some of it works.
I use ink, acrylic, cut paper, block printing, photography, screen printing, mixed media and many digital things when they are just as good for the final output I need.
Leather, stainless steel, Rowlux, Holographic Vinyl, glass, 3M Fasara Film, and LED lights driven by Teensy 3.2.
Rowlux® is a multi-lensed thermoplastic film that manipulates light to create a variety of unique and interesting visual effects. It gets its appearance of depth and motion from thousands of minute parabolic lenses that are molded into the surface on both sides of the film.
I have worked in design studios for 20 years, my font collection is unparalleled.
This year, I created about 300 title cards and Station ID cards for my annual video cube project. Most of them are seen for a second... So why bother? Well, details matter to me.
It's also a fun way to explore new styles and looks while learning new tricks to help create a more immersive experience for the participants.
Video title designers have to prototype fast, so having a bunch of "looks" to lean on and jump into is critical. My print production friends will roll their eyes, but I create these at 4K and shrink them down for HD broadcast and they look great.
For context, Be There Now is the name of my Burning Man camp.
Temporary Enlightenment is my sound driven video cube you sit inside of with your friends to reset your frame of mind. What you see and experience is a one time thing.
I built a 10ft X10ftX10ft video cube you sit inside of called Temporary Enlightenment.
I am not a video editor by trade, but I needed a bunch of short original content synced to music.
I edited about 1000 hrs of clips down to (3) 8hr continuous streams of music driven video content to use as my source wall.
The other 3 walls listen and react with separate rotating OpenGL libraries.
What you experience inside the cube is a one time thing. Temporary Enlightenment.
These are a few example videos I created to use as the source. I'm a sucker for a catchy pop song.
petra does kung fu
2 minutes steady
this is a rough edit that amused me. I want to rotoscope and animate it.
processing + a listening logarithm + some quick editing
Oceans 1a editing to music
I am definitely finding that If I use 2 curated sets of original clips and randomly chop them into 10 second and less bits, I can edit against peaks on the soundwave and it looks pretty organic. I wonder if specific human editors will have their tricks digitized the way we can apply LUTs from various Cinematographers to match our work to their lighting. Prefabricated Genius. Edit in the style of Walter Murch
My Condition B&W
These Penguins are Down
Penguins and glitch pop
Testing the limits of free video clips
editing video to free video clips
this mess is mine
folowing the sounds of my heart
The Sun set to music
A Quiet One
say it colorful
I work with WS2811 RGB led pixels. SanDevices E682 controllers and drive the pixels with DMX over Ethernet. I looked at a lot of software and the most fun I had on big pixel grids was with Madrix (it's German).
My interest was driven by a Burning Man project, but most of my knowledge about routing DMX is from Christmas Light forums in the US and Australia.
That subculture was (and is) on the bleeding edge of DIY with a lot homebrew software, controllers and hand coded animations. Nice people and good documentarians.
Ultimately the pixels became popular and cheaper on AliExpress, and they started popping up in Instructables and YouTube tutorials. I have built grids of 3200, 5000 and 10,000 pixels.
Next up is working in 3D.
3200 pixel prototyping grid
This is a 10ft 3200 pixel grid in our living room. 4 SAN Devices e682 controllers driven by Madrix on a PC laptop.
Mirror sheeting doubles the sparkle.
You can buy a thicker mil mylar on a roll, like all metallic films, it requires patience to work with, but it's a cheap way to create a giant mirror with or without distortion.
practicing at cottonmill
20ft across about 14 high. It's a very strange feeling working on a big grid, especially one you can get up close to.
If you climb my art, you are part of the marketing campain
We made a big expensive thing and people climbed on it all of the time while I was operating it by hand. We need to develop a symbol for climbable vs. not climbable art.
half inch steel mesh
it's not pretty during the daytime
Living with a big LED grid isn't easy.
Sound reactive LED space rock
I'm continually going through a light fixture phase. The space rock shown here is an acrylic and glass sound reactive light sculpture. It looks like a prop from the original Star Trek.
I will post some video of it running.
Living in a loft with massive Steel ibeams is awesome. I can work big without having to worry too much about engineering issues. Making things taller than 10 feet becomes challenging pretty quick unless you have a pre-engineered solution to build on.
I have a pair of 14ft light sculptures mounted inside of steel. This one is a "waterfall" made from acrylic, The rainbow on the right is holographic vinyl.
We made a UFO and people like to dance under it.
Jon's genius to make the car portion of the mutant vehicle allowed us to wring some value out of our investment in the pixels and electronics by performing live. Also, I didn't have a practice rig at that time, so performing was the only practice I ever got. Watching something happen on a computer screen is very different than seeing it on a 20ft UFO.
We were a couple years ahead of most at Burning Man with our animations and just the sheer amount of pixels, I consulted on a lot of projects the following year.
he hardware and software continue to evolve and get cheaper, the iOS stuff is really good and all of the big VJ software support DMX control.
I spend a lot of time on ladders.
This was the first Mothership year, everything took a long time because everything we were doing we were learning in real time. There aren't a lot of UFO building classes and there was not a great LED programming forum on Facebook. I learned everything by reading Powerpoint Decks that some guys in Australia made for a Christmas Light forum.
The grid is sound reactive
Yes, we have a lot of lights.
I like making things you've never seen before. I'm working on becoming The Willy Wonka of fun interactive art.
This was my first test pattern on the prototyping rig.
I have started working on some projection mapping projects using Resolume Arena, Heavy M, Derivative Touch Designer and Module 8.
Qlab Pro and Pro Presenter are also in the mix.
It's been a mind shift to think about everything as a single production. Multiple units are run from a mostly unified control interface with a vast number of outputs. I'm used to cobbling things together, this is more like stagecraft.
Temporary Enlightenment at Burning Man
I made a Video Cube you sit inside of with your friends. It's like sitting inside of an unpredictable lava lamp in space.
People with more money and better projectors than me are doing full dome projection that's really amazing. This is the one guy learning how to dow something version.
projecting onto glass at Dutch Boy
I have been experimenting with holoscrim film on glass, I'm using a darker film that gives it more reflectance, so it's pretty bright. This is a single 900 lumen LED projector. You can see BART go by.
Holoscrim is a stickyback plastic film with aluminum particles suspended in it that reflect light. It's used in fancy retail stores that want to display on the big glass windows. I cut it into panels for 16'x9' of factory glass.
A similar product is used to create performance "holograms" which are actually projections bouncing back onto a holoscrim screen.
2 walls of the cube
I was using a Matrox triple head breakout box with my 15" MacBook Pro to drive 4 HD projectors and it was working well, but it's high maintenance and we are doing shows in the dust and wind at Burning Man. The first year, I switch to a 4x8 video wall controller and didn't bother wrapping content, 4K looked great but everything else was a compromise, so I kept it simple.
The evolution has a control wall and the remaining 3 walls are running real time opengl scripts that turn sound into pretty things.
Because the user driven input is never the same, every second in the cube is a unique experience. Temporary Enlightenment.
My first projection mapping to music project
These are polypropylene sheeting shapes that I have mounted onto an 8ft greenhouse panel.
I am projecting onto holoscrim mounted on clear acrylic. I haven't figured out the best use for this in a display setting, but I think it would mix a 3D box with a mirror and more than one side with film. This stuff is bright enough with a 1500 lumen projector to be startling as most of us aren't interacting with transparent screens.
another angle that shows the edges in light
Costumes & Props
I love fabricating things and I'm great at Halloween. I have several costuming projects underway, I'm learning leathercraft, a lot of the fasteners also work with marine vinyl.
I have been drawing and inking these for a couple years. They are developing into the decorative design language of a futuristic aquatic species that is at the center of a project I'm working on.
I'd like to tool some of them into leather, I have a set that I printed in toner and laminated with foil.
I'd be thrilled if a tattoo artist wanted to steal them.
3D Printing and Design
I have a Flux 3D printer. It's a delta design with swappable heads for 3D printing, laser etching, 3D scanning and drawing with a pen.
This is a Tomato
I have another website: http://www.thisisatomato.com
I started with a high resolution free stock photo.
The gist is, how many different ways can one person see the same exact thing and re-express that thing in visual form.
I am considering cataloging them extensively as digital effect paint chips. Quick and easy design recipes to help someone get to a look quicker. Zero Photoshop required.
So far I have about 1000 variations. I am making and posting them as I have time without any annotation. Here are a few early examples I made that I like:
I went through a period where it was pleasing to me to cover things in other things.
Curiosity and a sense of wonder are at the core of who I am.
Some people take pictures of their food, some people take a lot of pictures of themselves, I take pictures of rainbows. Something huge and beautiful was happening in a moment and I got to see it.
I can't imagine a lot of moments in my future where I will leaf through galleries of food I have eaten or galleries of my face, but I will probably flip through a folder or two of rainbow photos.
This is my cat Mithras. He’s a polydactyl cat with extra toes on his front and back feet. Mithras is a funny beast who spends his days chasing the best sunny spot on something soft and furry.