Posted in design and architecture

Capturing sound via tattoos

An interesting concept in an age of ubiquitous cell phone access and body accessorizing; a company called Skin Motion is offering to tattoo soundwave patterns on to people. These people can then access and playback the sound recording via an app on their smart phone.


The firm Skin Motion describes itself as “a mobile application and artist platform network for augmented reality tattoos.”

Soundwave Tattoos all started when two friends got the opening line from Tiny Dancer tattooed by Nate Siggard. As they were leaving after their appointment, Nate’s girlfriend Juliana said “wouldn’t it be cool if you could listen to the tattoo?” and Nate quickly realized that he could make that happen. Nate decided he needed one of his own, with Juliana and their 4 month old baby saying “I love you” and filmed it to share online.

He posted the video on Facebook the next day, and it immediately went viral. Messages started pouring in from people all over the world who wanted to get one too. Nate quickly realized the potential for a way to make Soundwave Tattoos available for everyone. After writing the patent for personalized augmented reality tattoos, he launched Skin Motion.

Nate has provided a demo of the product:

According to their website, it works by recognizing the wave pattern in their sound library and playing it back:

A person uploads or records the audio they want into the app or website. We generate the soundwave from that. The person takes the generated soundwave to a tattoo artist we have trained and certified to do them. Artists need to be certified in order to make sure they understand the limitations of the technology and how that applies to tattoo placement, size, changing the design of the tattoo from a simple soundwave to make it more custom or elaborate on it for the person. Once they do the tattoo, the artist uploads the file to our backend. Within 24 hours we animate the overlay and add it to the app. When the person uses our app and points the camera on their mobile device at the tattoo, it recognizes the shape of the soundwave and plays back the animated overlay that has the original audio file in it.

So far this seems to work very much like a QR code, since there isn’t enough information stored just in the sound wavelengths alone.

Their website also mentions they are working on being able to accommodate a pre-existing wave form tattoo, so I will be curious to see how that works.


Posted in communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays

Collaborative Internet Art Creates Ethereal Masterpiece

A very cool art and technology project took place over the weekend on Reddit, or as SudoScript describes it, “a fascinating act in the history of humanity.”

For April Fool’s Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.

Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.

From a single blank canvas, a couple simple rules and no plan, came this:


Read more about how this came to exist.

The collaboration and patience required to make these various images is fascinating to me.


Posted in Uncategorized

UCSC Music professor receives patent to help fight bark beetles ravaging Western forests

Very important work coming out of UC Santa Cruz (my alma mater!), and a great example of art and science working together to help save the world, or at least the Western forests (whose existence helps keep the earth cool, so yeah, the world).

​UC Santa Cruz music professor David Dunn listening to bark beetles (Images copyright UCSC and David Dunn)

UC Santa Cruz music professor David Dunn has joined forces with two forest scientists from Northern Arizona University to combat an insect infestation that is killing millions of trees throughout the West.

They are applying the results of nearly a decade of acoustic research in an unconventional collaborative effort to stop bark beetles from tunneling through the living tissue of weakened, drought-stressed pine trees.

The trio has now received a patent for a device that uses sound as a targeted sonic weapon to disrupt the feeding, communication, reproduction, and various other essential behaviors of the insects.

Read more at:

Posted in Uncategorized

Artist-in-Residence in UW Science Lab

Source: University of Washington

​(Image: “Terminology I,” one of Cowie’s works inspired by her 2016 residency in the Nemhauser lab. Credit Leo Berk)

Claire Cowie — an artist, UW alumna and lecturer — spent three months in 2016 as a part-time artist-in-residence in Nemhauser’s lab. On Feb. 3, Cowie will deliver a talk to share her experiences and help spread the word about the benefits both she and Nemhauser see in their unusual partnership.

“This was such an insightful and creative experience,” said Cowie, who earned a graduate degree in printmaking from UW and has taught at the university since 1999. “I hope that by sharing this story and describing the residency program, we can inspire other collaborations between scientists and artists.”

By her own admission, Nemhauser wanted to host an artist in the lab “for years.” She was motivated in part by a longstanding desire for new and creative ways to move science out of the lab and into the public sphere.

“I feel strongly that scientists, as public servants, must engage with the community in meaningful ways,” said Nemhauser. “And many artists are already operating in the public sphere. Art and design have tremendous influence on how we communicate ideas.”

Nemhauser also feels that scientists could benefit from the perspective that artists bring — especially in creative processes and abstract thought.

Full story:

Posted in Uncategorized

How Crocheted Octopuses are Helping Premies


​(Photo: Poole Hospital, UK)

I have been tempted to learn how to crochet for years! This might just finally push me over the proverbial edge.

PLUS, there is a medical reason behind the tentacles… so I suppose technically you could make a squid too:

"Research has shown that crocheted tentacles remind little ones of their umbilical cords and being inside their mother’s womb, which in turn helps them feel safe.

"The idea came from Denmark, where research showed that toy octopuses can calm babies, while squeezing their tentacles led to better breathing, more regular heartbeats and higher levels of oxygen in their blood. The babies were also less likely to pull on their monitors and tubes."

Read more here:

Posted in Uncategorized

UV light reveals true colors of ancient greek statues

This is not a new method, necessarily, but it is very cool to see the technique advance and what it can tell us about style and art 2000+ years ago.

Original Greek and Roman statues, like Augustus, were brightly painted, but after thousands of years, those paints have worn away…


Although it seems impossible to think that anything could be left to discover after thousands of years of wind, sun, sand, and art students, finding the long lost patterns on a piece of ancient Greek sculpture can be as easy as shining a lamp on it. A technique called ‘raking light’ has been used to analyze art for a long time. A lamp is positioned carefully enough that the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object. When used on paintings, this makes brushstrokes, grit, and dust obvious. On statues, the effect is more subtle. Brush-strokes are impossible to see, but because different paints wear off at different rates, the stone is raised in some places – protected from erosion by its cap of paint – and lowered in others. Elaborate patterns become visible.

Infrared and X-ray spectroscopy can help researchers understand what the paints are made of, and how they looked all that time ago. Spectroscopy relies on the fact that atoms are picky when it comes to what kind of incoming energy they absorb. Certain materials will only accept certain wavelengths of light. Everything else they reflect. Spectroscopes send out a variety of wavelengths, like scouts into a foreign land. Inevitably, a few of these scouts do not come back. By noting which wavelengths are absorbed, scientists can determine what materials the substance is made of. Infrared helps determine organic compounds. X-rays, because of their higher energy level, don’t stop for anything less than the heavier elements, like rocks and minerals. Together, researchers can determine approximately what color a millennia-old statue was painted.

The author calls the work “tacky”, but I’m not convinced. What are your thoughts?


(Original article)

Posted in education, engineering, museum

Google Arts & Culture App turns art from all over the world into a meta museum

I love going to museums! I love seeing all kinds of amazing art and artifacts, learning more about an artist or piece of history, and making new discoveries.

Unfortunately, even in the museum-rich city where I live, it can be hard to see all the exhibits that come through, or even get to museums due to transportation or high cost (I’m not saying they’re wrong to charge those rates, I’m just saying if many kids had to pay $20 to look at art vs. $13 for a blockbuster film, I can guess which they’d choose).

Where I grew up the idea of a museum was a stuffy warehouse filled to the brim with items with minimal labeling and no context.

On either end of the spectrum, it can make art and history hard to engage with for many.

Now, Google has an app that is trying to address this divide.

Google has just unveiled a new app that makes it as easy to find the opening times of your local museum as it is to figure out who painted that bright purple Impressionist masterpiece you saw five years ago at the Louvre.

It’s called Google Arts & Culture, and it’s a tool for discovering art “from more than a thousand museums across 70 countries,” Google writes on its blog. More than just an online display of art, though, it encourages viewers to parse the works and gather insight into the visual culture we rarely encounter outside the rarified world of brick-and-mortar museums.

Most teens and young adults have smartphones.

This is a great way to bridge that gap between access points and give everyone the ability to geek out over Claude Monet or Alfred Stieglitz, or actually figure out who those two dudes are.

Well played Google.

h/t Fast Company Design.