Despite the visual beauty and life-giving nature of plants, there’s always been one main problem with our vegetative friends: plants can’t fly. A small company called Hoshinchu based out of Kyushu, Japan, recently set out to fix the problem that evolution forgot by inventing the Air Bonsai, a system for magnetically levitating small bonsai trees several inches above a small electrified pedestal. The system allows you to create your own miniature Avatar-like worlds with tiny trees or shrubs planted in balls of moss, but is also powerful enough to suspend special ceramic dishes of fragments of lava rock.
Air Bonsai is currently funding like crazy on Kickstarter and is availble in a number of configurations starting with a base DIY kit for $200 that requires you to use your own plants up to more elaborate designs that may only ship in Japan. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Way back in 2000 I downloaded a screensaver designed by Yugo Nakamura called DropClock that tied in with your systems’ internal time to create a functional clock face depicting Helvetica numbers dropping into water in slow motion. It was mesmerizing to watch and I kept it running for years. Designer Zelf Koelman took the idea of merging time and liquid a step further by creating Ferrolic, a self-contained clock that literally displays time with liquid. It’s almost exactly what would happen if a digital clock and a lava lamp had a baby.
Ferrolic utilizes ferrofluid—a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field—to display recognizable shapes in response to magnets embedded inside the clock’s aluminum frame. The moving blobs look almost alive, a fact not lost on Koelman who refers to them as “creatures.” He shares:
Ferrolic was designed from a strong fascination for the magical material Ferro Fluid. The natural dynamics of this fluid makes that this display bridges the gap between everyday digital screens and tangible reality.
Because the fluid behaves in a unpredictable way, it is possible to give the bodies perceived in the Ferrolic display a strong reference to living creatures. It is this lively hood that enables Ferrolic to show a meaningful narrative like for instance having the creatures play tag. In addition the natural flow of the material, it can be used to form recognisable shapes and characters. Ferrolic uses these both layers in parallel in order to display scenes and transitions in an poetic, almost dance like, choreographed way.
The clocks are a bit of a prototype so far, only 24 of the devices are available at a price of about $8,000 each, making it much more of a limited edition art piece than a consumer-grade alarm clock. You can learn more here. (via Boing Boing, Fast Company)
At 42x the size of a traditional ‘Light-Brite’ toy, the Everbright by San Francisco-based Hero Design is a huge grid of adjustable LEDs for drawing with light. But instead of only a limited selection of individual colors, the Everbright relies on 464 dials that change in hue as you twist them, offering almost unlimited color possibilities when creating designs. When you’re done drawing, the entire board resets to a blank canvas with the press of a single button. While fully interactive, it also comes pre-programmed with several animations that can play when not in use.
You can learn more about Everbright here, and it looks like this has already moved beyond a concept and the devices are now available for sale. (via Designboom, Neatorama)
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)