Near the start of all this, I joined the Art Exchange. The Art Exchange is a fairly small club for 10-13 year old kids. It was set up a while after the kinetics workshop, and while the led tutorials were mostly based around things like screen printing and painting. These were fun (especially the screen printing!), but I quickly learnt that there was a large cupboard full of craft supplies and various pieces of electronics. So, I started to play around with that a bit more. That’ll probably be covered by the next post in a bit more depth. Anyway, whilst I was at the Art Exchange, I found there was a camera I was able to use. It wasn’t the best, but it had a long exposure setting on it. I’d always wanted to see what long exposures could do, but had never really got the chance. I remembered seeing a forum post about drawing in light with LEDs, but couldn’t really remember anything about it, and lacked LEDs at the time. What I did have, however, was a small red laser pointer. I tried it out quickly on the wall opposite the window in the club room; it didn’t work too well, but it did show that it was able to work. So, I started hunting for a dark place to try again. I did a couple of shots in the entrance hall of the Exchange, but these, while they looked nice, (It was October, so the exterior lights lit up fairly early) you couldn’t see the laser. Finally, I just shut the door on the kitchen and turned the light off. There was still a bit of light seeping around the door and being emitted by the glow-in-the-dark fire extinguisher sign, but that was at an acceptable level. Then, I just started to play around with the laser. I tried everything from shining it through glasses of water to tying it to the end of a ruler and twanging it. Eventually, I started trying things out in the main gallery of the exchange. I found where to switch the exterior lights off so that it was dark. These shots worked better, I think, maybe due to the reflective floor and that everything seemed to be on a smaller scale. Anyway, these still weren’t quite what I wanted, but the larger space gave me a lot more freedom to play around with the lights. During this part, I tried using some disposable glowsticks to make some more natural patterns, such as throwing them around in the air in an attempt to see the arcs that they fall on.
Anyway, at the time I was cycling to the club, so I had my bicycle there most of the time. It struck me to attach some LEDs to the spokes of it; I think I was kind of inspired by the numerous POV spoke systems I’d seen. So, I attached the lights (Tiny things – a coin battery with a LED duct taped on to it), started the long exposure and got cycling! I just weaved around the main gallery, didn’t really have any aim. Then, I went back to the camera to see how it turned out. The first shot seemed to be OK, but couldn’t really tell from the tiny preview on the camera to make sure I didn’t have to get set up again. Then, took the camera back to the club room and uploaded the images to the computer. Seems I was right to do the second run, as the first shot seemed slightly dim and colourless.
But, the shots themselves were pretty impressive. When I first thought about trying it, I thought the result would just be a wavy (sine) line in the air. In fact, since it was on the ends of the spokes it actually formed what I later found out was a cycloid. Some other things in the picture I didn’t expect actually turned out to be major points, for example the reflection on the floor of the arcs, and the illumination from the lights on the wall.
I presented the pictures at the Art Exchange’s end of year exhibition. It actually took a while to find a nice format to present them in. We didn’t have much space, and the camera didn’t have too high a resolution. At first we tried some photographic prints, but these didn’t seem to have any vibrancy in them. After that, what turned out to be the final decision was a projector showing on to the back of a shelf, on which the other side some other work by members was being exhibited. This actually turned out better than I thought, as the shelf separated the room and meant that the projection was a focus point as visitors moved through the room. There was some trouble in that during the day the projection was facing the windows and sometimes became hard to see, however the exhibition was in September, and so the timeframe in which this could happen was very small.
Anyway, in all, that was my experience of making may first exhibited work, and one of the few times I have done primarily visual pieces. The next post will probably be looking at the “Wires” exhibition and the forays into electronics and sound before and after that.