anthrolume

Experiments in wearable electronic art.


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The Coverup

Bob

Meet Bob.

I’d like to introduce you to someone who has been part of my artistic journey for a few years now. His name is Bob. Bob is my mannequin. He’s a handsome one, and he knows it. He lives in my studio, where he often holds up the wearable art pieces I create while I’m working on them, and sometimes does long gallery stints, tirelessly modeling my creations.

Bob, before

Never anything to wear!

But I have to admit…Bob spends a good bit of the time naked. And I think it was getting to him. Here’s Bob, before. Bob is of course a model, and models are rarely shy with their bodies. But Bob…he’s a little self conscious. With reason, if I may say so.

In two weeks I’ll be at Electric Sky in Skykomish, and Bob’s coming with me. I’ll be creating animations for this year’s presentation of the trenchcoat. So during the day, Bob will be busy holding up the trench. But at night, I’ll be leaving his naked ass in the common area. He’s been fretting about that a bit.

So I decided to reach into the past for a, um, solution to Bob’s issue. Starting around the 1530s, depictions of male nudity in sculpture and statuary were deemed unchaste, and castings of fig leaves were often affixed to such artworks. While no artist would condone such an act, you have to admit that such a treatment on Michelangelo’s David could have saved the poor guy from centuries of tittering mockery by every visiting schoolchild.

Front

Fig Leaf front detail.

Back

Fig Leaf back detail.

Enter my modern satirical iteration on the mid-1500s censorship device. It’s a felt fig leaf with adhesive felt details. Behind it is a modified LeafLabs Maple microcontroller (yes, really) and 11 green LEDs run off PWM channels so that the Maple can control their brightness individually. All is powered by a 1600 mAh LiPo battery for 12+ hours of continuous chastity. And it’s finished with a leafy ribbon girding that Bob tells me is, indeed, fabulous.

Given its origins in history, my modern Fig Leaf does, I suppose, deserve a proper artist placard:

Bryan Ressler
Fig Leaf
2015
Felt, electronics
NFS

Fig Leaf explores the irony of modern attitudes towards nudity and sexuality. In the early 1500s, conservative churches and governments began censoring public sculptures with castings of fig leaves. Fig Leaf turns this idea around, drawing attention to the leaf itself and thereby the mysteries that lie beneath it.

Fabulous

Fabulous!

Now that I’ve finished the programming for Fig Leaf’s 15 simple animations, I will return to my preparations on the trench for Electric Sky. Bob, for his part, seems excited. He seems comfortable now to spend his Skykomish nights slightly less naked.

There are a few construction images in the video below.

P.S. Don’t tell him about this little NSFW detail. I still want schoolchildren to titter at him.


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Endgame

Review setup

Review using window for reflection

The time has come for Anthrolume 4.0 to make its way to Nevada for Burning Man. Before sending it out I did a bunch of last-minute work.

Over the last couple months I prepared 329 animations. The process of creating the animations happens in a Flash animation program and in my Animaker software, where I can see a sort of schematic preview of what the sampled animation will look like. Reality, however, can be pretty different. I run the trench at 6-bits/channel color resolution. That means that each of the red, green, and blue LEDs that are inside the 1,000 points on the trench have 64 levels of brightness for a total of 262,144 possible colors.

Ready

Gussied up for the burn

This bit-reduction is primarily done to dim the trench so it doesn’t use so much power. Theoretically it is 1/4 as much power as I’d use with full 8-bit resolution. On top of that, the LEDs in the trench have very non-linear brightness over that 0-63 range. I correct for that using a gamma table that I apply at playback time in the trench. Between those two factors, sometimes it can be difficult to know what an animation will look like on the actual trenchcoat. As a final quality-control step, I reviewed all 329 animations from a distance, positioning the trench by a window so that I could see both the front and back of the coat.

Boxed

Off to the races

I rated every animation on a scale of 1 to 5 (with resolution 0.5), and decided to cut any animation rated 2.0 or less. That resulted in the removal of 79 animations. But, I’m left with ones that I genuinely like. I will probably make more between now and Saturday too.

After I finished my audit, I boxed up the trench and the rest of the costume, the batteries, computer belt, and charge tree into one big 40lb box, and a bunch of tools and parts into another smaller 12lb box. I took them down to Tacoma today, where they’ll be driven to Burning Man by one of my intrepid campmates.

If you’re going to Burning Man, look for me. I won’t be hard to find.


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Cargo

Now that the trenchcoat’s belt is done, my campmates asked me for a final weight of the trenchcoat and batteries. Here it is:

Trench On Scale

The trench and belt on the scale


Trench Weight

The final weight of the trenchcoat and battery belt

The trench itself weights 21lbs 7oz. The belt, computer, cbox, pouches, wires and batteries make up the rest of the weight. That’s some cargo. It’ll be interesting to see how long I can actually carry that much weight around. I’m up for finding out!

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