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May 5 2021

Virtual dorkbotSF

Thank you to DB Crew: MC Jon Foote and James Young

Register in advance for this webinar by clicking the link below:

dorkbotSF Zoom Mtg May 5 2021

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Chat transcript with speaker links, contact info, etc.

Mari Bastashevski - Unwhorl

Unwhorl is situated in a speculative world of the extinct and unknown, a world that is all around us, and yet not ours to love nor to exploit. To take one example, London's Natural History Museum will likely take 20 years to catalogue its existing species holdings, and many of the gastropods, for instance, may be extinct by the time they are taxonomised.

The project makes use of machine learning, virtual reality, architecture, and auxiliary forms of archiving in order to create multiple overlapping parallel worlds, each informing the other, in each, life forms are generated through collaborative human, animal, and machine imputes.

Mari is building an auxiliary archive of unaccounted species sufficient enough to create a prototype world. The archive will then be used as source material for generating forms and architectures with machine learning. Following this stage of the process, she is hoping to have a VR architecture that would be informed as well as be populated by these creatures, in parallel a scaled down material architectural model that will be suspended into ocean waters; these underwater architectures will in turn inform how the VR beings behave and interact with the viewer in VR.

Conceived within the discipline of contemporary media arts and formally attached to EPFL and NTNU universities, the work is a transdisciplinary experiment, reliant on the expertise in data-science, ML/AL, philosophy, architecture, and biology among others. The project is collaborative by nature. At this time Mari is actively looking for collaborators who could help with the following aspects of this work:

Neural network generative breeding process that could be conducted with 3D or translated into 3D models later 3D modeling open to animation. Minor custom-built VR features that would allow us to integrate novel micro-gestures as well as suspend some of the features baked into VR.

The project is meant to answer a broader philosophical question of how Virtual (or rather extensive) Reality Environments can become a space of field research into speculative worlds, modelled in a way that would allow for a shift in the tripate relationship between animals, technologies, and humans. Can this shift in turn inspire post-extractivist mindsets, and ideas for more ecologically sustainable futures?

Mari Bastashevski is a visual artist and a writer, embedded into academia in a number of roles.
@unwhorl on Twitter
Unwhorl Instagram

Charlie Gadeken and Brian Bulkowski

- Entwined

Opening on December 10th, 2020, Charles, and 150 collaborators, created and installed a massive public art project entitled ENTWINED to celebrate San Francisco, Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary. ENTWINED was comprised of 23 interactive light sculpture trees and flower clusters filling up over an acre in Peacock Meadow. Enjoyed by over 150,000 people, the vibrant project closed on April 6th, 2021

CHARLES GADEKEN is an industrial artist working in the Bay Area for over 25 years. His monumental interactive public artworks reimagine the world "post-nature." Projects include commissions and installations from public and private entities, such as the cities of Palo Alto, Reno, and San Francisco, Absolut Vodka and Visa, and event productions, Insomniac, Coachella, Burning Man, and more. He has exhibited internationally and been featured broadly in media like the Wall Street Journal. Charles' art is inspired by nature's creations, structures, and processes and depicts objects in fantastic ways, and realizes the potential for serendipity in everyday life. Charles' work takes the forms of things we tend to overlook and transforms them into magical objects that exist as portals to our collective consciousness. From 2019-present, Charles serves as an adjunct lecturer at Stanford University in the Electrical Engineering department. He is creating a collaborative kinetic light art sculpture with students to celebrate the department's 125th anniversary.

BRIAN BULKOWSKI has worked as a professional software engineer in the Bay Area since 1989, contributing to development of technology for networking, consumer electronics, streaming video, and, most recently, distributed databases. Professional positions range from software engineer and team lead through director, architect, and chief technology officer. An avid musician, he was often seen in the late 90's and 00's as a cellist in the Pagan Lounge ensemble Rosin Coven. In the art world, he has an interest in managing and delivering volunteer-based software projects, which includes the complexity of designing to the skills and bias of contributors. Interactivity and diverse technology elements are always present, with control systems including LEDs, hydraulics, fire, and sound. Recent contributions include Gadeken's CROWN and ENTWINED, and the Flaming Lotus Girl's PULSE, NOETICA, and SERENITY. His favorite embedded controller is the ESP32.

Steve Piasecki

- Magic Mirror

Just like our experiences with social media, The Magic Mirror entices the viewer to interact while obscuring who they are interacting with. In a private room with a vanity mirror, the users sit down and get comfortable as the mirror asks them questions through text statements on the screen, getting them to reveal bits of information about themselves. The questions eventually turn into commands, as the mirror has secret messages to reveal.

When you look in the mirror and the mirror talks back to you, how do you know what is real? What kind of messages are you getting from the mirror and who is giving you those messages? Hidden behind a curtain, the person asking questions and issuing commands remains unseen, much like how who you're interacting with on social media is obscured. The interaction with the Magic Mirror is completely mediated through technology: a computer, a display, and a couple of web cameras.

Steve Piasecki (StevePi) is a San Francisco based artist working in photography, video, physical computing, and installations. His work explores the seductive nature of technology and people's relationship with it. He has been a member of the Gray Area Artists Incubator for the past 2 years. His work has been shown at Light.Wav, Gays Hate Techno, Dada Bar, and the Lone Star.

Tom Zimmerman - Light Controlled Hex Oscillators

At the heart of a synthesizer is an oscillator that makes the basic tone (pitch). The oscillators are usually controlled by a keyboard, sometimes by knobs, or if you have a Theremin, by waving your hands. Otherwise they can be controlled by a computer, as when playing a MIDI file (a list of notes and durations). But what if you have dozens or hundreds of oscillators? How would you wire them up to be controlled by a computer?

Tom realized that a computer monitor is basically millions of tiny lights controlled by the computer. One of his favorite simple circuits is an inexpensive light-controlled oscillator, the brighter the light, the higher the pitch. So he put the two ideas together: controlling lots of oscillators with the brightness of pixels. In this talk Tom explains the theory, then shows a proof-of-concept demonstration.

Tom Zimmerman is an inventor who loves hooking up all kinds of life-forms to computers, including people, sea turtles and plankton. His past inventions include the PowerGlove, the Personal Area Network (PAN), and a lensless stereo microscope.

RE/Search V Vale and Marian Wallace

- I Pet the Cat and Winston Smith

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