Kinetic Sculpture Race 2012

It’s Kinetic time once again in Arcata California. It was an overcast morning in the end of May. Labor Day weekend. A cold breeze coming in off of the ocean didn’t phase the spectators, who were out in great numbers to see a race  that seemed a bit subdued compared to olden times. The things that impressed me this year were less in the spectacle of it all, and more in the smaller details.

Arcata kinetic 2012

These guys need a bigger dinosaur. It looks like an afterthought. Putting the driver in the back seat is nothing but awesome though.

Fltamo vultures

The above entry, inspired by roadkill and full of vulture pilots, is the work of Duane Flatmo. I don’t personally see his style shining through on this one, but it was my favorite among the larger entries.

Lost Coast Brewery kinetic 2012

Lost Coast Brewery sponsored this fire truck themed fire ant that shoots fire out its arse!

Sasquatch hunterKinetic bigfoot sculpture

Predicting the weather in Arcata is unreliable enough that I’m not sure why we employ meteorologists, but the gamble paid off for this crew. A sunny day racing in a wookie outfit would be hellish, but the icy weather made them look more sane than those in shorts. A tribute to the sasquatch or bigfoot which are rumored to inhabit local forests.

Kinetic Flintstones car

Flintsones car

The one and two seater contestants really made the race this year. I love this FlintStones inspired car. It seemed well engineered and convincing and they weren’t having any trouble getting around. I’m not sure how the steering works.

Kinetic crab scupture

 

This little crab was awesome. Both his arms and claws were fully functional and I have no doubt anything messing with him would have gotten a good pinching. His little eyestalks were on springs.

Hot Chicks in frying pan kinetic

This one ought to be fun in the bay. These two chicks in a frying pan had a jet of fire above their heads.

Dragon deer sculpture

It doesn’t look lime much in photo, but this one impressed me more than any of the others. I’m not sure what the creature on the front is. It is deer-like, but had something dragon-like about it as well. It had a strikingly complex seris of controls operated by the lone driver via several levers.

Kinetic FunGuyKinetic Gnome

Sometimes all it takes is someone going a small extra step in order to bring something from good to great. There were lots of people in mushroom suits racing around, but going with the full body suit with eyeholes makes this guy look like a viable super hero. The above gnome is best seen in motion, since he gets around by bouncing rather than pedaling. To see him and all the rest, check out Bob Doran’s video below of the first two laps around the plaza at the start of the race. In the coming days the race will go through the dunes, across the bay, and all the way down to Ferndale.

Carved Zucchini

zucchini carving halloween vegetable carving

 

I carved a zucchini for Halloween this year (click image to see full size). Going unconventional with my Jack o’ Lantern is typical for me, though I would usually carve a watermelon, but I couldn’t come up with anything that would top last years watermelon skull with brain, so I figured it was time on to move on to greener fruits…errr vegetables? Whatever they are. The zucchini alligator carving took a bit over an hour (it is all one piece, so carving away the area around the teeth took time). It’s almost two feet long.

I recommend the zucchini as a carving substrate. They don’t stink, they aren’t sticky or messy, and they have a ton of firm flesh and only a small center of seeds. They won’t handle a candle though, so use a LED or ultrasonic fog maker.

Ninja Turtle Nose

Ninja Turtle Nose Ron Paul

This is one of those ‘once seen, cannot be unseen’ kinda sites. Draw a ninja turtle nose on a picture and send it in. My submission above, freedom ninja Ron Paul. Check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja NosesTumblr here.

 

update: Well, it looks like the Ron Paul media blackout is moving to the internet as the picture was never posted on their site.

Reuleaux Triangle

Reuleaux Triangle

The Reuleaux Triangle, named after Franz Reuleaux, is this odd roundy triangle, which would hardly seem worth naming after someone, except for one unusual feature: However you turn it, one side is always the same distance from the opposite side. If you were to put a board on a couple of  Reuleaux Triangles, it would have a perfectly smooth ride rolling on them. So what you say? A circle does the same thing? You know how whatever shape drill you use, the holes always come out round? A Reuleaux drill can drill square holes. Not even Chuck Norris can do that.

There are three dimensional equivalents as well:

These shapes of constant width have other uses besides looking funny and drilling square holes. Any time you invent a different way for machines to translate one type of motion into another, you have great potential for new inventions. I suspect this one is under-utilized.

Camera Ball Omni-Directional Throwable Camera

Throwable Camera Ball

Throwable Cameras are an awesome concept, and this 3D printed ball with 36 cameras by Jonas Pfeil takes it to the next level. Just toss the ball in the air and when it reaches the vertex, all the cameras take a picture. The result is a stitched together panoramic image with a full 360° unobstructed view. I can think of all sorts of variations of this that could be useful, from adding infrared and using it for military and police actions, to using a launcher to get a shot of the whole neighborhood, to doubling the cameras for 3D shots. Video Below

The camera isn’t yet on the market, but I’m sure the first question they are going to get from the masses will be: Can I get it in purple?

SteamPunk Guns

SteamPunk Gun - Nerf

SteamPunk guns aren’t just something to hang over your mantle for decoration. The weapon pictured above is a fully functional Nerf gun created by Etsy seller faustus70. Alas, it is already sold, but there is really nothing stopping you from making your own customized SteamPunk gear out of some beloved item and stuff you have lying around the garage. Faustus70 made his gun out of planks from an old chair and hand cut aluminum strapping. A bit of sanding, painting, and artificial weathering, and a masterpiece is born.

My only criticism of the piece is that I think rivets would normally be centered on the planks, rather than between them. It’s important to get these things right, because hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

This one may be gone, but last I checked, he still makes such things and sells them at quite a reasonable price at his Etsy store here.

Robotic Bull for the Military

War is about to change in a way not seen since the invention of the missile. DARPA (the defense Department’s advanced research wing) is showing off a scaled up version of Big Dog they are calling Alpha Dog, or Bull Dog. It resembles an actual bull more than any kind of dog, which reminds me of a recent story on adaptive camouflage in which researchers were attaching panels to mask most the infrared signature of tanks, and could project what would look like a walking cow onto the siede of the tank to further remove suspicion. In the case of Alpha dog, rather than projecting the cow on the tank, they seem to be putting the tank in the cow.

More interesting though, is what this says about the ever present arms race. The United States has been the dominant military power in the world, but has had troubles of late with small decentralized terrorist groups. Imagine if they were to convert an auto manufacturer to pump out tens of thousands of weaponized robotic mountain goats. It sounds a bit far fetched, but I don’t see what is stopping them really. Just with the tech they have shown the public, they already show themselves to have the tech not only to do this, but also to make them mostly autonomous. The toughest part at this point might just be giving them a power source that wouldn’t give us problems if it were captured.

It makes sense that the U.S. has cut funding for some of its largest budgeted fighter jets and other new tech. The next war will be lost to the people with the best drone offense and laser defense. What chance does a fighter pilot have against a drone immune to G forces, or a ground based laser system that shreds it from miles away at the speed of light?

In related news, there have been reports that the U.S. drones have contracted some kind of computer virus.

Pastels on the Plaza 2011

Pastels on the Plaza 2011 Arcata

Pastels on the Plaza time again. My entry above (click for actual size), for the lovely and talented Genevieve Schmidt, a local landscape designer and garden writer. See her work in this month’s Fine Gardening Magazine pages 42-47, as well as this month’s issue of Pacific Horticulture.

We arrived at the Arcata plaza at seven in the morning with a fist full of sidewalk chalk, art ideas in the other hand, and a bag full of new tricks to try out. The weather was ominous. I’d heard rumors flying for a few days about the big storm coming in and estimates for when it would hit.

The weather was great though. It was overcast and warm, though I imagine it will all be washed away in a muddy rainbow in a day or two. Keep in mind that these vary a lot in size, most being either three by three feet or three by six, but I’ve mostly cropped them to the same width, so if the rectangular ones look more detailed, it’s because they are shrunk twice as much. It took me about five hours. These entries are all done by local artists and paid for by donations from local businesses for a local children’s charity. Let’s take a look at this year’s event:

South side of the plaza looking west

That pastel for Moonstone Grill in the front with the fun shape was done by local author Joan Dunning. I should really take more of these shots, but things are usually so crowded. If you look at the upper left of the image you can see a rare Tibetan Mastiff. I love the red reinterpretation of Starry Night as well.

Holly Yashi Pastels on the Plaza 2011 - Leah Vaugn

Above we have the entry by Leah Vaughn for Holly Yashi Jewelry. And below, her husband, graphic designer Casey Vaughn for Tomas jewelry.

This was the first year for Susan Fridley, the artist of the below entry for A to Z Eye Care. Pretty good for a first try!

This one by Primal Decor Body Art Studio is a contender for best of show in my opinion.

I wish I had gotten to watch Renaissance Painting Company work. I’d be interested to see their process.

Duane Flatmo was there of course. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. When I mentioned to him that I had seen his SteamPunk octopus from Burning Man on The Huffington Post, he hunted down a flyer for me, which I’ve put a scan of below his entry below.

The Humboldt Area Foundation had real leaves mixed in with the pastel.

B&B Porta Potties clearly has a healthy sense of humor with their flowers below.

 

I’ve worked in the rain before. I’ve worked in the wind. I’ve worked in the sun. Each has its own challenges. For anyone out there who may be attempting this kind of thing for the first time, I’ll pass on a few of the things I’ve learned.

You can work wet, or you can work dry, but you really need to decide at the beginning, Trying to spray water on pastel after it is on the ground just kicks up chalk and then beads up and sits. Working wet will get you richer colors, smoother blending, and an almost total inability to deal with mistakes. Once the wet chalk goes somewhere, trying to remove it or alter it just makes mud. Working dry lets you change everything as you go, and gets you finer detail, but builds up dust and sometimes doesn’t adhere well. Below is this year’s entry by Alan Sanborn, a talented watercolor artist. He works wet and with brushes.

Paintbrushes are great if you are working wet and those foam ones work better than expected. If you are working dry, it just flings everything about like a broom. This year I was working dry, and I brought an old towel and cut it up into pieces. It worked much better than a brush for blending crumbs into the sidewalk and mixing colors. We also brought a Dust Buster for when we had chalk buildup and didn’t want to blow it on the neighbors. I highly recommend it.

I prefer to work dry, but sometimes the weather doesn’t make it an option. I work wet when it’s raining or windy. Morning or evening sun casts a lot of shadows, which add to the difficulty of keeping track of perspective while sitting on your work. I end up sitting on wet grass most of the morning, but this is easily solved by getting a good bath mat to sit on with a solid rubber backing. If it’s thick enough, it is also a good alternative to knee-pads when kneeling on cement.

I leave you with a few more honorable mentions:

Update:

Looking around for press coverage I came across this youtube video posted by radmul:

And an image from someone flying over:

Arcata Plaza overhead