Our Lightning Talk from Maker Faire Toronto

Back in October of 2011, Brad Blucher and I were invited to give a lightning talk at Site 3 at some point in the future. After numerous delays, the talk was scheduled to occur during Toronto’s first ever Maker Faire.

On my way to the stage, I handed my camera to a friend and asked him to film our talk so I could post it to YouTube. Here is that talk:

If you prefer text to video, here is the script we were going from. We may have strayed from this slightly, but the tone and information should be the same.

BRAD: People often use the phrase, “I could have done that” as an insult. We prefer to think of it as a compliment. Our series is so simple that any person with access to a remotely controled electronic device is capable of doing it on their own. Yet, they did not. Too often electronic artists seek to accomplish something simple through incredibly complicated means. This is not necesary. Don’t be afraid of simplicity.

The mantra “simplicity first” is what informed our efforts for Take a Picture. When hold up your camera you see an image that wasn’t there before. Pretty simple right? Ther technology that we used for this series is just as simple as the “point and shoot” method through which it is viewed. Before we can get to that, we need to give you some background information.

KYLE: Here’s the science: This is what the human eye can see.
KYLE: This is what a digital camera can see
KYLE: And this is what’s out there.

BRAD: A digital camera’s sensitivity to IR can create beautiful unnatural images. But for the average consumer capturing life is more important. So, an IR filter is built into most digital cameras.

KYLE: High-end cameras have very good filters but cheap cameras, like point-and-shoots and cellphone cameras, are a different story. They usually let tons of IR through.

KYLE: Just point the business end of a TV remote at your camera and you can see the flashes of light yourself.

BRAD: This is exactly the phenomenon that Kyle stumbled upon that started this project. Over the last decade that Kyle and I have been working together, Kyle has scrambled over to me many times with a “really cool idea we have to do” (do the air quotes for really cool for maximum funny)
It’s then up to me to make the idea take on a physical form. Here’s what we settled on:

It’s overkill, but it’s versatile and re-useable. Each light has it’s own board and resister, so we can chain them as long as we need to and re-use them however we want.

KYLE: The images are relatively easy to construct. All we have are points of light; so image-wise, we keep it simple. Designs are printed on paper, then transferred to masonite. Holes for the LEDs are drilled into the board, and this holds everything in place. Then it’s a simple matter of putting something that’s transparent to IR over top of everything to make it look nice. Once that is done, it’s ready to present.

KYLE: If you’re really interested and haven’t been paying attention, I put the instructions up on Make.

BRAD: So that really is all there is to it. If you have any questions, we would love to hear them at the end of the night. You can also visit our website, posted directly behind us, to view our catalogue and the plethora of videos we have put together to document our image making process.

KYLE: Thank you for your time.

I’m honoured to have been invited to share a stage with 9 other brilliant and interesting presenters, and to present my own work to an elite audience of makers, hackers, programmers and other creative people. Even after the warm reception we received, I still kinda feel like I didn’t really belong up there.

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.