In a 21st century take on the traditional Zen sand garden, artist Bruce Shapiro invented the Sisyphus Machine, an elaborate kinetic drawing machine that uses magnets to drag rolling steel marbles through a thin layer of sand to create complicated mandala-like patterns. Shapiro, who was once a practicing physician, has spent the better part of 25 years experimenting with computerized motion control and many of his Sisyphus Machines have been installed in locations around the world including a large device in Switzerland back in 2003 and at Questacon in Canberra, Australia in 2013. It appears the artist is currently working on a tabletop consumer version and if you’re interested you can sign up for his mailing list here. (via Core77, Fast Company)
The Tempescope is a novel device designed by Ken Kawamoto that displays the upcoming forecast by simulating weather conditions inside a small translucent box. The device is capable of downloading information about upcoming weather off the internet, which it then translates into a variety of modes to replicate sunshine, clouds, rain, and even lighting. Kawamoto made an early version of the device available as a free open-source project called OpenTempescope so you can try building your own, but a consumer version is planned for Kickstarter later this year. If you liked this, don’t miss The Cloud. (via Sixpenceee)
A team of researchers in Japan lead by Akira Asano of Burton Inc. have developed a 3D aerial display capable of projecting text and imagery in mid-air. The Aerial Burton works by firing a 1kHz infrared pulse directly into a 3D scanner which in turn focuses and reflects the laser to a specific point in the air. Molecules at the end of the laser then ionize, releasing energy in the form of photons. While the full potential for such a display has yet to be seen, Asano suggests it could be used as a communication aid in the event of a disaster by communicating evacuation routes or broadcasting the location of emergency supplies. Personally, I would be satisfied with a 3D laser butterfly in my backyard. (via DigInfo)
Currently funding over on Kickstarter, the E01 is a computer designed specifically for the display of art. The device was created by New York-based Electronic Objects who aims to simplify the display of digital art with the help of a dedicated system. The E01 can be wall-mounted or used with a stand and is controlled completely with your phone so you can swap out art, videos, GIFs, and even code-based projects that are executed in real time.
While there are several online services involving the sale and/or display of digital artworks (Sedition comes to mind), Electronic Objects is one of the first to offer the complete package of a digital display, distribution system, and artwork itself, not to mention a developer SDK which opens the door for untold applications in the future. They’ve also announced content partnerships with the New York Public Library, Behance, Giphy, and the Museum of the Moving Image. Several of their demos include artwork by artists seen right here on Colossal including David Szakaly and Zach Dougherty. The E01 is $300 over on Kickstarter. (via Kottke)
Artist Juan Fontanive (previously) constructs perpetually looping flip book machines that depict flying birds lifted from audubon guides and illustrations of butterflies. Part film and part sculpture, almost every aspect of the flip books are assembled by hand from the minutely toothed gears, clips, nuts, bolts, wormwheels and sprockets to the carefully screen printed imagery. Of the curious devices Gild Williams remarked, “Fontanive’s artworks seem strangely possessed, producing curiously moving animals that are neither living nor dead, or creating ghostly systems which seem to float mid-air and follow a pace and logic of their own.” You can see much more of his work over at Riflemaker.
After a wildly successful Kickstarter last year, the Impossible Project have finally made their handy iPhone polaroid printer, The Impossible Instant Lab, available to the general public. The portable lab allows you to turn any photograph on your iPhone or iPod Touch into a bonafide polaroid print in just moments, harkening back to ye olden days when photos were regarded more as physical artifacts that could be shared in real life. Learn more about it over on Co.Design.
While we’ve seen examples of objects suspended mid-air using quantum levitation and acoustic levitation, a team of three Japanese engineers from The University of Tokyo and the Nagoya Institute of Technology recently unveiled an ambitious device that uses sound waves to move objects through three dimensional space. The machine uses four arrays of speakers to make soundwaves that intersect at a focal point that can be moved up, down, left, and right using external controls. You would think such machine would be extremely loud, but according to one of the engineers the device uses ultrasonic speakers and is almost completely silent. You can read more about it right here. (via Reddit)