Audrey Penven Reveals The Hidden Beauty of Microsoft’s Kinect

For her new solo show, “Dancing With Invisible Light”, photographer Audrey Penven has created a strange and beautiful collection of images that reveal the unique patterns of infrared light produced by the Microsoft Kinect. An inexpensive videogame peripheral, the Kinect lets players interact with games by moving their whole bodies. By projecting a special pattern of infrared dots onto a player, then analyzing the way their body alters that pattern, the Kinect is able to accurately determine the player’s position in 3D space.

Audrey first became intrigued by their unique qualities of this “structured light” after using a modified digital camera to capture images of her friends playing the Kinect game Dance Central. In an excellent interview with CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman, Audrey describes this moment of discovery, explaining:

“I thought it was really amazing to see people defined by these infrared dots,” Penven said of discovering the surprise in her photos. “I knew that infrared was used in some way by the Kinect to map out 3D space, but I didn’t know what to expect when shooting with an infrared camera…I thought it was interesting that the human form could still be so recognizable, even when only shown in tiny dots. I loved the quality of light and the different way of looking at depth and form. [And] I was inspired by the way the Kinect was using a pattern invisible to human eyes to see us.”

Inspired by these initial results, Audrey decided to experiment further in her studio. To better isolate the infrared light from the Kinect she set up a system that allowed her to easily turn her normal studio lighting off entirely before taking a picture. With the exception of an occasional flash (firing only momentarily when she released the shutter) she was effectively shooting in total darkness.

“As a photographer I am most interested in the nature and quality of light: how light behaves in the physical world, and how it interacts with and affects the subjects that it illuminates. During this shoot my models and I were essentially working blind, with the results visible only after each image was captured. Together, we explored the unique physicality of structured light, finding our way in the darkness by touch and intuition. Dancing with invisible light.”

“Dancing With Invisible Light” will be on display through April 29th at the Pictopia Gallery in Emeryville, California. An opening reception will be held on Friday April 1st from 6-11pm, featuring a live performance on iPad & iPhone by BitPop musician Doctor Popular.

Reality, A Social Network Based In Real Life

Reality, “a social network based in real life”, re-launched this week. Described as a fully portable, crossplatform social network with an endlessly flexible API, Reality is hoping it can give infamously well-funded newcomer Color a run for its money.

“When we saw a new crop of our competitors getting closer to launch, we knew we had to act now,” Donai said. “Color is especially troubling, with its push into our core market of real life social networks. Of course their software is missing the magic sauce: real life.”

And just like Color, Reality is already defending itself against charges of overspending for its re-launch.

“Once people found out how much we paid for our domain, we received a lot of ‘Why didn’t you just use GoDaddy?’ sort of feedback,” said Reality’s CFO Lore Dee. “Look, people may think our investment in reality.li was extravagant, but our $22 investment can easily be flipped to $25 by next year.”

via J

Coilhouse Magazine Announces DRM-Free Digital Downloads

Beginning yesterday, and for a limited time, acclaimed indie art magazine Coilhouse—”A love letter to alternative culture” whose exquisitely produced print editions consistently sell out—have made all of their back issues available for digital download as high-quality, DRM-free PDF files.

About their decision to publish digitally, in a high-resolution format, unburdened with intrusive copy-protection measures, the publishers wrote:

As paper gourmands who have been touting the Magazine-As-Art-Object aspects of our production from the get-go, we know there’s nothing quite as scrumptious as holding a tangible, finite paper edition of Coilhouse in your hands. We also realize that as we’ve continued to grow and evolve from a teeny wee indie publication to a somewhat less teeny (but still wee!) indie publication, there has consistently been more demand than supply of our limited run print issues as well as other merchandise, leaving a lot of forlorn readers crying out, “What do you mean it’s sold out ALREADY?!” And we must acknowledge, with regret, that our as-of-yet limited overseas distribution, combined with high international shipping costs, has made it prohibitively expensive for much of our global readership to afford copies of the Coilhouse print issues. We’re still working out these kinks as we go along. Thank you, comrades, for your continued understanding and kind suggestions on how we can improve.

Rest assured that we remain, first and foremost, resolutely committed to producing high quality print editions. But with your feedback, we’ve ascertained that high res PDFs are the best, most affordable solution we have currently for giving an ever-increasing readership access to our past print content. Depending on the success of this trial run digital sale, we may go in any number of directions: offering perennial PDF downloads, developing multimedia applications for smartphones and iPads, maybe even creating snazzy limited edition print digests for fellow diehard bibliophiles. Full disclosure: in recent weeks, we’ve been in multiple meetings with trusted mentors, friends, and publishers, discussing all of these possibilities, and more. SO EXCITING

Issues are being offered individually ($5 each), or as a complete set of five ($20). As this is also an important fundraising effort for the magazine, purchasers are free to pay what they like above those minimums.

The sale ends on April 21st.

Lose Me In The Sand – A New Album and Tour by Mark Growden

lose-me-in-the-sand

“Lose Me In The Sand”, the new album by Mark Growden, was released today on Porto Franco Records. “Lose Me In The Sand” is Mark’s second album with Porto Franco, following 2010′s acclaimed “Saint Judas”.

Long beloved in the San Francisco music scene, Mark’s live performances are legendary for their combination of incredible musicianship and raw emotional honesty. Whether playing fiercely spirited bluegrass, or dark, impassioned songs of desire, the experience is unforgettable; an intense, alchemical communion, in which both audience and performer alike leave spent and exhilarated. Heart, soul, blood and bone, Mark is a true artist. Or, as another Bay Area musician succinctly put it, “he’s the best of us.”

With “Lose Me In The Sand”, Mark offers up a spirited, eclectic reinterpretation of American traditionalism. In this excellent SF Weekly feature, Mark Keresman writes:

[Mark] approaches American music in untraditional ways, keeping the framework and verities, but, in his words, “turning them on their head, [interpreting them] the way a jazz musician would. It’s not jazz, but it’s taking old songs and finding their emotion, remaking them anew.” Growden embraces American music as a whole, finding Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin part of the same continuum as Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

Mark’s incredible talents are deservedly beginning to receive wider attention. In addition to the SF Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Examiner and Bay Guardian all ran articles on Mark this week, as did several national publications.

To celebrate the release of “Lose Me In The Sand”, Mark will be performing live at San Francisco’s Brava Theater this Friday and Saturday night, where he will be backed by his Tuscon Band, who’ve specially flown in for the occasion. On both nights there will be an opening performance by Seth Ford Young, Mark’s label mate and frequent collaborator. The Brava shows will be followed by a national tour, beginning in California before heading into the midwest and beyond. A full list of the currently scheduled dates can be found on Mark’s website.

The second single from the album is “Settle in a Little While”, a delightfully catchy tongue-twister of a ditty for which Mark and artist Liliana Mejia, created this playful music video, animated using a Buddha Board and a blow dryer. Enjoy.

photo by Karen Kuehn

Art Of Social Conscience: The I-75 Project by Norm Magnusson

For his I-75 Project, artist Norm Magnusson has been placing a series of fabricated historical markers along Interstate-75. Although they appear official, Magnusson’s markers contain political and social observations rather than historical ones – what he calls “art of social conscience”.

Interstate-75 begins in Sault St. Marie, Michigan on the Canadian border. After leaving Michigan, it doesn’t touch another blue state. It’s 1,775 miles from top to bottom with about fifty rest stops.

The I-75 Project [places] historical markers with social and political content in each of these rest stops. My goal is not to incite, but to inspire though amongst those who travel on this route.

About his choice to insert his artwork in a public setting, Magnusson writes:

The types of people who stop to read them are collectively defined more by their curiosity about the world around them than they are by any shared ideological leanings, which makes them a perfect audience for a carefully crafted message. And unlike most artworks on social or political themes, these markers don’t merely speak to the small group of viewers that seek out such work in galleries and museums; instead, they gently insert themselves into the public realm.

“Are they real?” is a question viewers frequently ask, meaning “are they state-sponsored?” I love this confusion and hope to slip a message in while people are mulling it over.

These markers are just the kind of public art I really enjoy: gently assertive and non-confrontational, firmly thought-provoking and pretty to look at and just a little bit subversive.

Check out more signs from this series at The I-75 Project website.

[via thickculture]

Fundraiser For NIMBY, A DIY Industrial Art Space

NIMBY, the Bay Area DIY industrial art space whose motto – “Refuse to live vicariously” – is a perfect rallying cry for the Maker Revolution, is holding a fundraiser on October 16th. NIMBY parties are notorious for their boundless eclecticism, packing their vast space with live performers, interactive fire art, giant nose-picking machines and an array of other, far less-easily described entertainments and divertissements.

Infamous brass-kickers Extra Action Marching Band are headlining a lineup that includes bicycle dance troupe, The Dérailleurs, punk rock cabaret The Can Cannibals, the clown funk of Gooferman, and many other uniquely Bay Area performers.

Many NIMBY-created artworks will be on display, including Maria Del Camino, a 1959 El Camino adapted to run on tank treads, and Interpretive Arson’s 2piR, a participant-controllable ring of flame effects, freshly returned from a triumphant run at Denmark’s Smukfest.

A weird & wild time is guaranteed for all!

2pir

photo by Dan Garcia

The McRoll – Surreal Video Remixes Of Japanese McDonald’s Commercials

A more disturbing alternative to the rickroll, the “McRoll” replaces the cheesy inanity of Rick Astley with the queasy insanity of Donarudo Makudonarudo (Donald McDonald), the mascot of McDonald’s restaurants in Japan.

Commercials featuring Donald – so named due to the lack of a clear “r” sound in Japanese – have been the subject of a variety of bizarre remix videos, complete with psychotronic soundtracks, surreal video processing and seizure-inducing editing. The result is chirpy and harrowing, akin to something one might be subjected to during a session of A Clockwork Orange’s Ludovico technique.

As YouTube poster Shredhead370 says, “I challenge you to watch the whole thing.”

A compilation of the original, unedited commercials can be seen below.

And while we’re on the subject, here are two more original Japanese McDonald’s commercials from 2006, featuring a pair of sexy models-cum-Donald McDonald cosplayers, reaffirming Japan’s lead as the Internet’s single-largest exporter of what the fuck.

via Joseph Pred