The Best Show And Tell On Earth

Last week I joined a group from a hackerspace called Noisebridge to show some of my VR demos at an event proclaiming to be the best show and tell on earth. Read on, for some impressions about Maker Faire.

Will you be my friend?

Will you be my friend?

Maker Faire is a strange combo, many individual creative makers come together to show their stuff and connect with others but also some more established  businesses and companies are there with their pretty standers sale pitches.

I was there with a group of people from Noisebridge we had a VR booth with demos we created. Some of the group created a virtual Noisebridge with a 3d scanner and also a a 3d model you could switch between. I was showing my MindMoVR experience and also a demo with a leapmotion camera where you could use your own hands in VR and interact with actual objects. A pillow became a giant teddy bear and the HTC Vive controller became a buzzing butterfly you could catch.

There was also another group from the space showing this crazy contraption they made, a type of printer that was just holding a sharpie pen and moving it on a page to create a very unique style of drawings based on photos you could take at the booth.

Besides us there were hundreds if not thousands of other booths. Here are some trends I notices.

Robot mayham

Robot mayham

Robots – lots and lots of robots made from anything imaginable including cardboard. One of the biggest highlights was the giant MegaBot unavailing. This Robot is supposed to fight a Japanese Robot sometime soon.  The robot was swinging its giant arms and crashing into a car but the transfer of momentum was more of a pushing then punching.

Drones – there was a drone race track as well as a drone fighting. Mostly these sports seem to be about picking up the fallen drones and fixing them. But I guess letting out human aggression this way is pretty harmless unless these drones or robots actually get sentience.

Blinky

Blinky

Blinky – a whole room filled with blinky LED stuff.  Not much new for anyone who’d been to burning man, but still pretty.

Personalisation – on the more commercial front there was a little trend of personlising daily objects by using scanners and 3d printers. Print your own perfectly fitting shoes or glasses for instance.

Personalize your shoe

Personalize your shoe

Tools – laser cutters, 3d printers and lots of other tools that are the maker’s version of crack. There was even an automatic knitting machine.

Some nostalgia – among all this futuristic stuff there was also a bunch of steam engine machines and an old style photo booth with one of those box cameras and film!

Even for an “old cynic” like me there was enough novelty and interactivity to make the event worth it. And seeing strangers play with the stuff I made was pretty amazing. I’ll be showing MindMoVR at Figment interactive art festival on june 10th in Oakland. Come say hi.

The Nipple

It’s not every day that you get a bunch of strangers to touch lots of different nipples, well ok, copies of nipples.  Keep reading for some experiences from the breast themed art exhibition I participated in.

The Nipple, a touchable DNA helix of all gendered Nipples.

The Nipple, a touchable DNA helix of all gendered Nipples.

Massive amounts of visitors flocked this art exhibition that was only open for one night. There was a wide variety of beautiful pieces, from photos, to oil paintings, sculptures, and live performers but I think my work was one of the only touchable pieces people could actually interact with.

Great focus on consent

Great focus on consent

Large signs everywhere focusing on consent and not touching or photographing art or models without asking first definitely helped make the space very safe but I had to improvise a little “touch me!” note to facilitate people touching the piece. Even then many people seemed very skeptical and even somewhat intimidated to touch the nipples but once they did most their faces turned into delightful smiles and some even produced little squeals of surprise.  Made out of body safe silicon using casts of real peoples’ nipples produced a pretty realistic sensation.  A lot of people asked if the nipples were male or female and it was great to be able to tell them that they were nipples from people from all across the gender spectrum and point them to my contributor list which included preferred pronouns and to the little black book which held photos, names and pronouns of the contributors.

Thank you message from Lambda legal. click image to donate too!

Thank you message from Lambda legal. click image to donate too!

I also managed to raise a few bucks for Lambda legal, an NGO fighting for legal rights of transgenders by selling individual nipples and even gluing them onto various body parts. The most meaningful moment for me in those interactions was encountering a woman who went through a double vasectomy and didn’t have any Nipples. She chose two purple nipples that glow in uv light and it felt like she was injecting some joy and playfulness into painful memories. I wasn’t the only one using art to try to raise awareness to important issues; there was an exhibition that was raising money for cancer research by selling unique pillows.

 

a pasty shaped like a nipple

A pasty shaped like my nipple

The instructions for the event included a reminder that “all breast-wielding mammals” were to cover their nipples according to some law regarding places that sell alcoholic beverages. This is exactly the type of ridiculous laws that motivated me to create this art piece. I followed this law by sticking a yellow glowing pasty of my own nipple onto my real nipple. My attempts to glue Shlomo’s tiny nipple onto mine and create a totally flat chest didn’t work out as well and the left side of my body looked as if I had fallen into an acid vat. It was quite chilly anyway so I wore a jacket letting my glowing right nipple make an occasional appearances.

what do you think of the price?

what do you think of the price?

Interacting with some of the other artists around me was really fun and there was a very good vibe both from the artists and the crowd. I got a lot of compliments about the originality of the piece and a lot of technical questions about how it was made. The prices for most of the original art work seems very high to me but I really don’t know anything about the art world. Shlomo suggested the unique price tag I asked for and it definitely got a bunch of giggles. Finally the ride home, using a ride share app, was extremely entertaining as I explained the art work to the driver and exposed him to gender issues he hadn’t thought of before in a fun interactive way and even left him a nipple he stuck on to his dash board. I hope some of the viewers in the show had the same experience and I hope this type of exhibition can help change some of the conservative memes about breasts and gender.