BlinkCam in action

With the BlinkCam fixed and up and running, I’ve decided to take it out onto the streets. Many more pictures soon to come. In the mean time – I’ve documented some public interaction:

more here

I am an enabler

All comments go. I’ve decided to allow comments here after not doing so for a long time. I have no idea if anyone have ever wanted to comment. I don’t actually know for certain that anyone actually read this blog. But if you do, and you are a person, and you want to leave your thoughts on what I do here, or about anything in general, now you can…now you can. I am an enabler. On to the booze.

Oh boy…some trouble with moveable type again. No comments for now. Check back soon!

Experimental Device for Performance – Wearables Project.03 (update — fixed!!!)

Last week I detailed the construction of what I am now calling the BlinkCam. Unfortunately, I shorted the circuitry of the camera itself. It powers up, but the switches no longer trigger the shutter as intended.

The only solution was to purchase a fresh polaroid for hacking. Same steps as before, and In about a half hour I’ve got myself a working BlinkCam! Check the demo here.

And check these hot pics!

Can’t wait to take it to the streets!

UPDATE LINK!!! – takin’ it to the streets!


In doing some research for a writing response to an article about Krzysztof Wodiczko, I needed to look through a lot of old footage from my undergrad. I have 40 or 50 Digital8 tapes from those four years that sit in my closet, waitng to be digitized. While looking through that stuff I found my graduate application supplemental materials reel and gave that a gander. It reminded me just how much stuff I used to do that is what I would now consider “analog.” All these different video and photo techniques. Need a Final Cut Pro filter that makes a video look damaged / interference? Why not copy it over to VHS and stick your hands in the VCR to manually disrupt the data. Need the audio to sound tinny and shallow? Record the voice over off of the phone. I guess I still use some of these techniques in my my work, but what really struck me as being different was photography. Spending years in a darkroom, I reviled the advent of digital photography. Where was the art? No process. No chemicals. No blood, sweat ,and tears. I found footage from a shoot I did in completely dark dance studio with pen lights attached to my limbs and the camera set to “bulb” (there is no specific amount of time the shutter knows to stay open, the shutter stays open until it is closed again). See header image for the result of that shoot. I realize I really miss those old photo techniques and so I got out my point and shoot digital camera to see if it has s “bulb” setting. No dice. The best I’ve got on my Canon Powershot A540 is a setting to keep the shutter open for fifteen seconds. That’ll have to do. Extending my procrastination evn further into the night, I used a standalone flash bulb to make the following images:


This weekend I performed in the build/decay festival at The Tank. It was my first opportunity to incorporate Experimental Devices for Performance into a live stage performance. I used the video hat I’ve been working on and demoed for the second week of Wearables class. There are some improvements made to the last version. The current build includes 3 enlarged patches of conductive fabric for the leads as well as two sets of eyelash switches (see this entry for more on eyelash switches). Many thanks to Lauren Rosati for putting the festival together and Mike Rosenthal and The Tank for being generally awesome.

And the biggest thanks to Ariel Efron for documenting the show. Thank you!

Video is below.

view the program


Experimental Device for Performance – Wearables Project.03

Hack a device. This week’s project focuses on re-appropriating cheap consumer technology for use in a wearable. My device of choice was the point and shoot Polaroid 600 instant camera.

But how to make it into a wearable?

Camera technology has always fascinated me. The image is a powerful thing, but with the image’s exponential proliferation and exploitation, what value does the image still hold? Is image still truth. Is it still time? Is image iconic? These are the things I’ve been thinking about heading into this weeks project.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to make a wearable that takes a picture of the wearer. I want the shutter to be activated by a gestural action that does not involve pressing a button – preferably an involuntary action. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

A camera attached to a bike helmet that takes a picture using the eyes as physical switches. That’s right. The eyes as physical switches and conductive fabric glued to my face.

And here’s how I got there:

First I need to get a new Polaroid camera with a momentary push-button switch instead of a mechanical switch (usually found on the older models) to trigger the shutter. It is amazing how fast Polaroids are disappearing from the market these days. You can buy a digital keychain camera for half the price of a new Polaroid. What’s more, a 3-pack of film for a Polaroid costs about as much as the camera itself. An expensive habit.

Time to hack the Polaroid. These cameras are usually fairly well put together as any light sensitive equipment should be. The thing about instant Polariods though is that they are usually snap together. Luckily this model has 3 tiny screws holding the sides together after it pops open. After taking the screws out I carefully pry off the top to reveal the innards. The goods:

I’ve located the shutter release as pictured above and determined through testing that the center switch and one of the periphery switches need to be closed simultaneously to trigger the shutter to release. With this figured out I can go on to snipping the existing wires and soldering leads for new switches that I’ll add later.

Getting the casing back together is surprisingly easy, with a little care. My camera appears to be back in working order. Testing the new leads I’ve soldered only requires closing the switches. That just means touching all the wires together at once. Flash. Good. It works.

I’ll run these leads along a wire hanger I’ve bent to attach the camera to a bike helmet. I’ll terminate the leads in half-snaps so that I can convert the wire to conductive thread for the switch interface. (See this post for more info on snaps and converting wire to conductive thread and fabric)

On to the switches.

Swithces. Binary. Open. Closed. Eyes. Binary. Sexy. Why. Why not?
I’ve always wanted to translate the movement of eyelids to the opening and closing of a switch. Using conductive fabric, conductive thread and some spirit gum, I’ve finally got a solution.

I’ve cut the conductive fabric in thin strips and frayed the edges to give them more of a fake eyelash look. I’ve carefully sewn the conductive thread to the lashes at one end and to the other half of my snap connectors at the other. I attach them to my face making sure that the leads don’t touch eachother. I snap the lash switches to the snaps on the helmet and I’ve got a working system.

With the switches wired up correctly, the wearer has to close both eyes at the same time to get the shutter to release. This way all you get are pictures with the wearers eyes closed.

Most pictures look something like this: link


i heart ITP


I’ve decided to start a seperate blog specifically for my thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. As of this writing (02/07) I am not actively linking to it as I would my other work. This is a semi-private document and thought space. I need to set it up in this way to give myself structure while also allowing a lot of play. The signal to noise ratio may be a bit more 50-50. I am going to try to make this a hyper-active scrap-book. I’ll be post anything and everything as I see fit. No need to justify. It all fits into my thesis somehow. My thesis…Experimental Devices for Performance. (for now)

I’m not going to post a link to it, but if you’d like to see it just drop me a line.

Things I’ve always wanted to say to you

A Public Apology -
This morning I hit the foot of a woman in front of me with the bar of the revolving subway turn-style coming out of the 8th street downtown N train exit.

The Scene:

She’s walking slowly. She’s in a Robert Wilson stage direction she’s walking so slow. She’s walking next to a turtle. I am stuck behind her. We get to the turn-style. She waits two full revolutions. Nothing. No signs of any forward motion. I do a half-committed open-palm Virgin Mary thing behind her and finally she enters the turn-style. I make it a point to get in at the next slot to show her that it’s not just one person per revolution, but one person per slot, making it in fact three people per revolution. The thing that I do not do, is push. I simply keep her pace, immediately behind her. She exits. I keep her pace. It’s a good three feet until that next divider bar of the turn-style is gonna fly by at a blazing 1-2 mph. Somehow….somehow it grazes the back of her heel. And then I exit. And then she turns, looks and me, twists her face, and walks toward the wall. She puts her hand up against the wall, for support I’m assuming, and makes that mad-faced open-mouthed subdued-but-animalistic low growl. And shouts, “why did you do that! you should have waited.” “I’m sorry,” I say. I say I am sorry four or five more times as I walk next to her, speedily now walking up the stairs. She turns the corner. And I say I am sorry.

These types of things have been happening lately. I’ll be in a rush, and commuters will be strolling along like it’s national hands-in-your-pockets-day. They’ll be in my way and they’ll be moving slowly and I’ll accidentally brush their elbow with the turn-style. They’ll be walking up the stairs two at a time, when it’s obvious there are lines established. I won’t get out of the way. They get out of the way a bit too late. Out shoulders meet, we are both shocked at the force. They’ll be slow on the steps. I’ll accidentally find their Duane Reade bag underfoot. Crunch.

I’ve decided that this cannot weigh on my conscience any longer. I have decided to make a public apology.

I’ve coupled this idea, with an exploration in Wearables. This is a self-user test. The next step is to get the proper screen and build the wearable device to hold it in place.

And yes.

I’m sorry