My regular readers have probably observed that I am a huge fan of things that combine technology and art in novel ways. This issue will be dedicated to a event my boyfriend and I attended mid-December at Pier 70 in San Francisco, co-hosted by The Midway, Pier 70 Partners, and Marpi, where that sort of thing was on display.
It felt a little like what some of the artistic installations I imagine Burning Man must have, but without the sand, hours-long drive, or the thousands of dollars of investment it would take to attend the event.
I'll confess: between the beverages we imbibed and the music we enjoyed, we didn't have too many (or really, any!) in depth conversations with the artists or creators, but I'll share a few photos and videos, and brief descriptions of what I understand these creations to be, and I welcome anyone's further thoughts on the exhibitions.
Laser and Fog
This was quite simple in idea, but very well done in execution: a laser illuminating a single "layer" of fog (provided by a nearby fog machine), so that the complex shapes and air currents can be visualized.
Lit-Up VW Bug
There ain't too much more to say about this one. It's a vintage VW Bug. With lots of lights on it. In some sense, not particularly sophisticated, but certainly attention grabbing!
Have you ever wanted to be rendered as a dancing dinosaur, or as the Rock Monster from Galaxy Quest? Or dance against a psychedelic background that changes every time you swat at an imaginary globe hanging just about your head? A pair of installations enabled exactly this, by combining the Microsoft Kinect sensor with some clever software (and taking advantage of the great DJs in the background, and plenty of alcohol-fueled participants).
Though the physical implementation was quite clever and far beyond my skill set, in some sense these rotating arms with full color LEDs was not in itself particularly original. Though much larger in size and color palette, I had a toy version of this from RadioShack in the early 90s. However, the artist paired his far more sophisticated version with some pretty amazing software which he custom built, allowing him to start with an image or an abstract geometric pattern, and then morph it gradually in a variety of ways creating a mesmerizing display that looked like a circular TV screen - a screen that might lop off your arm should you run into it!
Building as Art
The pier itself was an impressive but dilapidated WWII-era corrugated steel building - more history here - worthy itself of being photographed. But one installation took advantage of a projector and custom-built software to highlight the steel trusses and beams supporting the structure, integrating the art and it's location in a novel way. I've added a few exterior shots from the evening as well so you have a sense of the environment.