posts tagged with the keyword ‘art’



Graduate reviews are done, and I got feedback from faculty on my current work. I was a great opportunity to gain insight into how others view the work I do. Typically these sort of things help reveal ideas that you don’t think about while making the work, or bring up new questions in regards to why you make specific choices.

One of the interesting takeaways from today was when a few of my pieces were called “sketches”. If you think about a sketch, it’s defined as “a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture.” Many of the pieces I created are experiments, or explorations of ideas. They’re often not highly crafted pieces. I appreciate craft and people who are skilled at creating beautiful objects, but I often think I don’t have it in me to do that sort of thing.

I thought more about sketches, and the fact that in the Processing and Arduino worlds, the programs are called “sketches”. As I understand it, this was done specifically to appeal to artists and creative people who didn’t have a background in computers. Tell an artist they are going to write a computer program, and that’s a frightening proposition, but tell the same artist they are going to create a sketch and that’s an achievable goal.

I sketch with physical things…

That’s today’s revelation. Many of the things I make are real-world sketches. The physical manifestation of an idea. Often there’s an immediacy to the creating of the thing, but not always. I tend to work in two ways. The first is a reactionary mode, where I have an idea and act on it immediately. I start building without too much thought, and see what the process and the piece reveal. The second method involves thinking, designing, and prototyping as an iterative process. The pieces created from the second method are often more polished, but both methods produce valid work, and the reaction to each kind of work may be equal (meaning, people don’t always gravitate to the work that had more initial thought or took more time.)

Oh, I also want to drop the other definition of sketch here, “a short humorous play or performance, consisting typically of one scene in a comedy program.” This also relates to some of my work, but I’m going to leave that exploration to a future post.


make it move: Body and Machine

Exciting news in the world of kinetic art! If you enjoyed my recent piece The Hammer of Futility, but would really like to see it in person, you’re in luck! As long as you’re in Minneapolis between March 7th, 2015 and March 21st, 2015.

The arts organization make it move is putting on a show titled Body and Machine and my lovely hammer will be there, and if all goes well, I’ll also be there, at least for the opening on Saturday, March 7th, 2015.

My colleague Broc Toft will also have some work in the show. I enjoy Broc’s work and I think you will too. Speaking of enjoyable work, Savage Aural Hotbed will also be performing at the opening! I saw them at The Hack Factory back in 2013 and they were a lot of fun.

I’ve got a few more kinetic pieces in mind, but I’m really pleased with how the hammer turned out, and I hope to see you (well, my Minneapolis friends) at the opening!


The Hammer of Futility

The Hammer of Futility

The Hammer of Futility

The Hammer of Futility


We use tools and machines to extend the reach of the human body. Our expectations do not always live up to our dreams. The Hammer of Futility is a kinetic sculpture created from laser-cut wood that consists of a hammer attempting to hit a nail, and failing, repeatedly. The piece was designed with software, and cut from wood using a laser cutter, then hand assembled, and wired for motion.


Sound the Alarm!

Here are the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of a piece I presented at UWM’s Arts+Tech Night titled “Sound the Alarm”, which lasted either 45 minutes or 3 hours, depending on how you want to look at it.

My plan was to build a (mostly) useless machine from (mostly) scrap material. That part worked fine. I added an IR sensor that would trigger a servo to hit a wooden hammer against a frying pan. The sound was really nice. Sort of.

I built this really fast, and did some minimal testing, and it worked fine, but the Law of Deployment, which states “It will work fine with minimal testing, but fail when put in place” took hold…

It worked fine for 45 minutes, and scared a few people. I made a sign with small type that you had to get close to read, and when you got close enough, CLANG! The hammer would hit the pan. It was lovely.

After 45 minutes or so, it just kept hitting the damn pan every few seconds. I assumed the IR sensor failed, or maybe a wire came loose (nothing was soldered) and Vishal from Milwaukee Makerspace (who just happened to stop by) even tried to repair it.

Sound the Alarm!

So after 3 hours of clanging loudly, with me stuck just 10 feet away, I shut it down, and wheeled it into the elevator where it promptly toppled off the cart and broke. Which was sort of perfect, as the text on the sign suggested we must “sound the alarm on questionable construction techniques”.

I ended up connecting the Diavolino to my computer to debug things with the serial monitor. To my surprise the sensor was doing the right thing. I then assumed it was the servo that went bad and decided to just trigger all the time. I threw a different servo in place and it seemed to work fine again, for a while.

Eventually I gave up and left right before midnight and went outside to discover I had a flat tire. Awesome! I then used a toy air compressor from Harbor Freight to put enough air in my tire to drive home.

Despite what sounds like a bunch of crap it was a really a great day!



I stopped by the Bay View Printing Co recently to get some advice from Ashley Town about a project I’m working on. She was kind enough to give me a tour and show me some of the presses and other equipment, and I got to check out some of the type they have, including some of the wood type. which is just… beautiful.


They’re about half way to their goal with an Indiegogo campaign to raise some funds. Here’s the pitch from Ashley:

I’m raising funds to be able to offer classes, workshops and open studio time focused on the art of letterpress printing and to transform a portion of the current space into a community gallery. The vision is to transform this Bay View institution into a creative hub for artists, designers, writers and letterpress novices and enthusiasts.

I personally think this place is a great addition to Milwaukee’s creative community, and would love to see it get fully funded.


And hey, who else uses the hashtag #drinkandink? Check out the rest of the photos and their campaign video below.





Wood & Lead Type!

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