The tiltshift-o-scope is a special telescope that makes the world look like a little toy model of itself.
It uses a very large lens to project an image onto a tilted glass screen. Because the screen is tilted, only one part of the image is in focus, and everything else gets blurry.
This simulates a shallow depth of field, and everything you look at seems tiny!
The Tilt-o-scope is currently on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. It is part of the Sizing It Up: Scale and Nature in Art exhibition, on display until September 2016.
The stroboscope is a special camera that I built to capture motion. I was inspired to play with stroboscopic photography after seeing photographs taken by the French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey. In the 1880s, Marey invented a camera with a rotating shutter that could capture multiple images on a single photographic plate. He used this camera to study locomotion in humans, animals, birds, sea creatures, and insects.
Marey used clockwork mechanisms and photographic plates for his contraption, while mine uses an electric motor and a digital camera. The camera is set to take long exposures while a slotted disk spins in front of its lens. Each time the slot spins past the lens, the camera gets a glimpse of your subject and adds another layer to the image. The resulting photograph is a record of your subject moving through space and time, and these images often reveal beautiful patterns that would otherwise be invisible to us.
The stroboscope is currently on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, where you can try it out! I also wrote an article for MAKE magazine with instructions for building one of your own.
Mirrored pixels is made up of hundreds of mylar tubes, sandwiched between two diffusing filters. There are three super-bright LEDs (red, blue and green) directed at the underside of the table. If you put your hand between the lights and the mirrored tube wall, you create colored shadows which then pass through the mirrored tubes, and the mirrored tubes mix the colored shadows into every conceivable color. This piece is currently on display at the Exploratorium.
This card is a tiny paper camera obscura! When you place it next to the candle, pinhole images of the candle flame appear to light the candles on the little cake.
Birthday Lantern Card
This is an installation that I created for the Exploratorium's Tinkering Studio. Each tile is constructed using a different technique. I am constantly adding to this piece as Iearn new skills. The most recent addition is print, created with a 3d printer. It recently inspired the kids at Lighthouse Community Charter School to make their own.
This is an old Snackmaster vending machine that I retrofitted to be a tinkering tool dispenser, stocked with LEDs, conductive thread, salvaged switches and toy motors. It lives in the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium, making all those hard to find components easily, and affordably, available to everyone.
I love taking things apart to see how they work, and mechanical toys are especially fun to dissect. There are some really interesting mechanisms inside, and it's a great way to play around with circuits. I thought that this might be a good (if slightly twisted) way to display the inner workings of a mechanical toy.
The rain-sensing umbrella is something I built for grey, foggy days in San Francisco. It uses a simple sensor made out of copper tape that was inspired by the work of Forrest M. Mims III. He wrote a great series of books on how to build sensors and circuits using simple, familiar materials. His books are inviting and accessible, which is not something I usually think when I see circuit diagrams.
I was particularly inspired by his rain-sensor. I love that it's possible to make an environment-responsive circuit with something as simple as copper tape, raindrops and LEDs.
rain sensing umbrella
Forrest M. Mimm's III circuit workbook
Good Vibrations donated these sex toys to the Tinkering Studio for an adults-only event called Sexplorations. I created this collection of circuit boards to let people hack the toys with home-made switches and sensors.