romlab workshop

I just finished teaching a two week workshop exploring space using VPT and arduino.

I kept a project blog, romlab2012, which might have a few useful tips for the integration of VPT and arduino. It will be updated with a bit more documentation from the different projects in the near future.


VPT 6 available: A projection powerpack

With almost 5000 downloads of VPT 5.1, I am happy to announce that the next version of Video Projection Tools, VPT 6 is now available.

VPT is a powerful and flexible video projection tool that does much more than just mapping.

What´s new in VPT 6.0
A completely new graphical interface making it even simpler to position, scale and distort the layers.
32 layers (previously 16)
mesh distortion with variable-sized control grid.
a completely rewritten cuelist making it even simpler to create transitions and to build complex sequences. You can now also send osc formatted commands directly from the cuelist.
crop-scaling of sources.
increased syphon support with two syphon (crop-scalable) inputs as well as syphon output support (mac only)
a DMX module has been added, with support for Enttecs usbdmx pro interface, enabling both control of VPT from DMX light consoles, or the possibillity to control dmx devices from VPT.

VPT still supports mac and windows, and it is still free. However, I have added the option for contributions through paypal:

VPT 6 is made possible through the support of IMAL in Brussels and Atelier Nord in Oslo.

IMAL offered me a one month residency in april to give a VPT workshop and to do an exhibition.

Atelier Nord has supported me twice this year: First they hosted a workshop as part of Oslo Lux in January which ended up in a VPT 5.1 release, and in june they gave me a week residency to write documentation for VPT 5.5 which instead turned into intense development of VPT 6.

So hosting workshops and inviting me to residencies is another way of supporting my work.

Read more about VPT 6 and try it out

Results from openLAB exhibition at IMAL

In beginning of April IMAL hosted an openLAB workshop called “Projections on forms and spaces”.
The workshop was led by me and was mainly based on using VPT. We selected 7 projects to be realised during one week development at IMAL, and the documentation is now available from IMAL.

It was an intense and interesting week, and interesting to see VPT explored for new uses in installation and performances. A new development for me was to introduce a simple video and audio trigger setup (available in the xtension section), which allowed for some audience interaction, as well as use of the serial module for controlling lights inside sculptures.

VPT workshops

Well, it´s no secret that a shiny new version of VPT is just around the corner.

The first people who get to try this version are the participants of the upcoming VPT workshop in Bergen, hosted by BEK.

The workshop takes place December 6th-9th.
Sign-up information.

As part of the Lux festival in Oslo I will give a workshop hosted by Atelier Nord January 22nd-23rd 2011.
Sign-up information.

In april 2011 IMAL in Brussels will host another workshop. Sign-up information will come later.

makerbot #508

One of the things I was planning to work on during my New York residency was to construct a makerbot, a 3D printer that comes as a kit, based on the reprap which I have written about before. The cupcake cnc, which is the official name, is made by a Brooklyn based company Makerbot Industries that came out of NYCresistor. The first model came out late spring last year, and they continually improve both the mechanical,electrical and software parts for each batch they send out. For about $1000 you get all you need to make your own desktop 3D printer, which sounded like a good way of getting started with digital fabrication.

For me, one of the entrypoints into fabbing has been through reading some of Mitchell Whitelaws postings, for instance Transduction, Transmateriality and Expanded Computing. Chris Anderson wrote a very optimistic article in Wired in January: “In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits“, which is nicely balanced by the maybe more realistic gizmodo article “Atoms Are Not Bits; Wired Is Not A Business Magazine“. A few days ago Thingiverse posted their take on this: “Atoms are Not the New Bits. Yet.

I ordered my kit in december, and in the beginning of february it arrived at my doorstep in Brooklyn. The construction took about a week. The instructions for assembling the makerbot are pretty good (although I had my IKEA moments), but to actually get the makerbot printing was a lot more complicated and frustrating than what I had expected. After trying different things for almost a month with plastic-spaghetti as my only visible result I got a replacement card for the extruder controller (the part which controls the flow of plastic), so last night I was finally able to print something which was very exciting!

The cupcake cnc is made from lasercut plywood and acrylic. It has three stepper motors: The x and y axis are moving the build-platform, the z-axis moves the extruder vertically in relation to the build platform. The printed object is buillt layer by layer:plastic filament is fed into the extruder, which heats it up and squeezes it out similar to a hot-glue gun. The controller is based on the seeduino microcontroller, which is an arduino clone.

To make an object you obviously need a file. The final file is basically a description of operations for the makerbot, controlling the position in the x,y,z axis, as well as temperature and flow of the extruder. You start off with a 3d object, made for instance with blender, sketchup or openscad. This must be exported/converted to the STL format, which can be read by the application that converts the 3D model into slices and produce the controlcode understood by the makerbot. This is done in python-based skeinforge, but some more intuitive tools have started to emerge. The makerbot comes with its own controller software, ReplicatorG, which is very similar to the arduino interface. You can choose to either save the object-code onto a SD-card, or to print the object directly from ReplicatorG.

A good place to start is Thingiverse, where people upload their 3d objects for other people to make. I find it fascinating that I can make my own version of an object somebody else has modeled. I also find the makerbot blog quite useful. Bre Petis, one of the makerbot team, gave a nice presentation(mp4) at Chaos Computer Conference in Berlin in January.

More images of #508


The last half year I have been working quite a lot with lights and shadows, and this summer I decided to build my own lighting system, which I called dimsun. The first use of it was for my blink installation consisting of 24 leds placed in a circle.

It consists of dimmers based on the TLC5940 led controllers. Each of the dimmers can control 16 channels, up to 5w each, and are intended for power LEDS, very bright leds up to 5W. The dimmer is controlled by an arduino microcontroller, and up to 6 dimmers (96 channels) can be controlled from one arduino.

more images of the dimsun system.

The schematics will be made available soon.

The lamps are based on starshaped LED´s combined with a lens mounted on an aluminum profile.

The space between my ears

Perceptual meltdown after Granular Synthesis retrospective at the STRP festival in Eindhoven, in the old Philips facilities in the Strijp area.

The festival´s focus this year was a retrospective on maximalists austrian media art group Granular Synthesis. It was a unique opportunity to see a lot of the group´s work as well as newer work by the two members Ulf Langheinrich and Kurt Hentschläger. If you have ever seen any of their work before you would guess that this would be an overkill event, and you are right. The works are intense audiovisual bombardements, they physically attack your senses and that does something with your body and mind.
The Granular Synthesis performance installations POL and modell 5 are large scale multiple projections with a corresponding large sound system, which worked well in their monumental way in the factory space.
The solo works are not that large-scale, but more intense. Ulf Langheinrich showed Hemisphere (which I mentioned earlier from the exhibition “from spark to pixel”) and Drifter. Kurt Hentschläger showed Cluster and Zee, which could be seen as offsprings from his ARS electronica performance Feed in 2007. Zee is basically a room filled with smoke, with stroboscopic images projected into the smoke. You loose all reference to the physical space and experience psychedelic visions.

All their works relate to perception, and it was an interesting coincidence that I was reading The Space between our Ears while I was at the festival.

It was a bit strange to experience Granular Synthesis at STRP, since the audience is mainly a quite young techno crowd, and the difference between a trippy techno party and an installation like Zee is pretty vague.

Apart from the retro media artists there wasn´t so much of interest at the festival, the exhibition was a mix of two trends in the media art scene: The commodification of media art on the one side: beautiful objects in perfect collector size, and the technology fascination on the other side.

The Strijp area contains more than the festival. It is the site of the former Philips research lab Natlab, in the art world probably best known for the creation of le poéme electronique, a collaboration between LeCorbusier, Varese and Xenakis for the World Expo in Brussels in 1958 (I will probably write a bit more about this in a separate post).

The old Natlab is now dead, but last fall Baltan laboratories emerged in another part of the Strijp complex, a media lab with a fantastic space and with interesting artists like Telcosystems and Geert Muul involved. I will give a presentation there in the end of may as part of their monthly public Natlab sessions.