Microsoft NERD, One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
NEW VENUE: Microsoft NERD, One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA.
In our first joint event, Upgrade! Boston and dorkbot-boston are thrilled to co-host Douglas Irving Repetto. Douglas is an artist and teacher. His work, including sculpture, installation, performance, recordings, and software is presented internationally. He is the founder of a number of art/community-oriented groups including dorkbot: people doing strange things with electricity, ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show, organism: making art with living systems, and the music-dsp mailing list and website. Douglas is Director of Research at the Columbia University Computer Music Center and lives in New York City with his wife, writer Amy Benson; two cute/bad cats, Pokey and Sneezy; and many plants.
In 2007, Douglas and his collaborator LoVid created Bonding Energy for Turbulence.org. Bonding Energy consists of a set of Sunsmile devices that collect and measure solar energy from seven geographically distributed sites around New York State: Columbia University, NYC; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy; University of Buffalo; Colgate University, Hamilton; free103point9’s Wave Farm, Acra; Experimental Television Center, Owego; and The Redhouse Arts Center, Syracuse.
The light energy reaching the Sunsmiles’ solar panels fuels a collaborative real-time data visualization on Turbulence. Part of the larger Cross Current Resonance Transducer (CCRT) project in which the artists are developing systems for monitoring, manipulating, and interpreting natural signals such as tidal patterns and wind, Bonding Energy is focused on solar energy. Bonding Energy is a model for distributed microenergy generation, inspired by SETI@home — which harnesses the collective power of personal computers distributed worldwide — and microcredit, a loan system that supports poor or unemployed people in underdeveloped countries. Small contributions from many individuals can produce significant results.
Circular Spectrum Analyzer is part of the ongoing Cross Current Resonance Transducer collaboration with LoVid. It is a solar energy to sound and movement transducer. Two solar panels directly power a shortwave radio and two motors. One of the motors continuously tunes the radio across the 19MHz spectrum while the other slowly turns seven wooden discs. The shape and engraving of the discs was determined by data collected from the seven Sunsmile devices in Bonding Energy. The same data was used to engrave intricate patterns on the aluminum body of the sculpture.
Wired voted Douglas one of 2005’s 10 Sexiest Geeks. In a 2006 interview Wired News asked “Tell us how dorkbot came about. Where did the idea for it stem from and what was the first meeting like?. Douglas replied:
The specific way dorkbot came about was I moved to New York City and I was leaving a place — I ‘d been working up at Dartmouth College, which is in a pretty isolated place, for a few years. It was really wonderful and I had some great friends there but it was also an extremely small community; virtually no one doing the kinds of things I was doing or was involved in.
So when I came to New York I really wanted to get involved with people. I really wanted to expand socially and collaboratively…. And so I … had this idea that it would be fun to just sort of send out a blanket call to say, “Hey, if you’re doing neat stuff, I’d like to, you know, hang out with you.” So the idea was an adult show-and-tell, more or less. You can read the whole interview here.