On Tuesday night, Kwartzlab hosted its first 5+5 lightning talk event at its headquarters on Duke Street. This was a chance for folks to find out what Kwartzlab is all about, and it’s obvious that they’re all about making cool stuff–with passion. The 5 min. per speaker venue featured 10 artists and hobbyists who make everything from cement casts of fern leaves to open-source RFID security entry systems and robotic insects. Darin White of Kwartzlab expects to showcase his “animeyes” project (see below) at the CML this winter. The work creates an uncanny humanoid blinking effect with the use of very simple materials, including origami eyelids and drinking straws, which Darin uses to construct his “strawlenoid” blinking system. Brilliant. But what does it all mean? Hope we get a chance to figure that out as CrimeLab and Kwartzlab engage in an ongoing collaboration.
Speaking of “making cool stuff,” last week Darin Wershler gave a talk at UW about his next book project, on the topic of “The Gizmo.” Wershler paid special attention to Rube Goldberg machines, explaining that the rhetorical, political, and aesthetic value of such devices is precisely their uselessness. Not everything being made at Kwartzlab is particularly useless, but maybe it should be, as a mode of resistance against the pressures of efficiency and commercial value that characterize digital media production, leaving little room for creative experimentation.