Friday, August 29, 2008

dorkbot Toronto

Today I finally attended another dorkbot event, a few months after my first. Before I go into details of the event, I want to say it was a complete pleasure doing this in Toronto. In NYC, you get used to events like these, while I've been having trouble finding them in Toronto. My only criticism is that even after promoting the event to a dozen people, no one wanted to go.

But this isn't for everyone, I guess...

Anyway, dorkbot-Toronto is much more artistic (in terms of "pure art") than what I've seen in the past, but I can't complain. I showed up to be challenged and immersed, and so I was. Three artists presented, including Kelly Jazvac and Atom Deguire. Kelly focused on her work with vinyl, while Atom showed photos from his work around Europe, where he'd use tape and physical objects to modify benches, walls, and galleries. Visit his site, as I don't want to misrepresent his views here... All I can say is that it reminds me of a more abstract and arguably less political Banksy.

The first presenter, and one which I want to focus on the most, is Kristen Peterson, who also runs Drawing Research. I can talk most about her work because in some ways it's the most mathematical. Illusions aren't new, but I really like her approach... I left the meeting wondering if there's some sort of mathematical order behind what she does. The illusions depend a number of drawings / illustrations. At the right angle, they merge together and convince you that they're actual objects, and this is a wonderful way to challenge your senses. Even Kristen brought up the intersection of planes in her presentation -- the illusions really freak you out because two dimensional objects obtain a three dimensional quality to them.

... But then I couldn't help and think about how you can potentially "encrypt" information this way. For example, go to and click on Artwork and then on YYZ. You'll automatically see the illusion, where the bars seem to go into and beyond the wall. Very impressive, very Escher-esque, very cool!

Now here's what I'm all excited about. Say that instead of evenly-spaced bars, Kristen actually created a bar-code scheme that travels into the distance. Could a barcode reading pick up this information? It technically wouldn't work anywhere except when looking at the illusion correctly... Maybe this is impossible for traditional barcode scanners, but newer ones (such as the type you can install in an iPhone) should be able to do something similar.

All of a sudden, you have an illusion that actually gives you information... Say a website URL, or a secret message.

Anyway, my point is: this was a lot of fun. Everyone in Toronto should go to a dorkbot meeting.

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