Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paladiochanics: Translation of Rotational Motion

I've always been fascinated by ancient cultures. I wrote my term paper in art history about the revival of Mesopotamian architecture during the 19th century. But, like most classicist buffs, I'm hooked on ancient Greece.

As you may or may not know, the ancient Greek architecture of temples (and to some degree other buildings) come in three basic styles: Doric, Ionian, Corinthian. These are the three classical Greek orders of architecture.

These three basic building blocks have since then been adapted and re-used by the western culture a number of times. First by the Romans. They started copying the Greek orders and added two new ones them selves. Then, during the renaissance, the ancient orders experienced a... well, a renaissances. E.g. the  Palazzo Chiericati by 16th century architect Andrea Palladio has both Doric and Ionian columns. Then there was the Greek revival of the late 18th, early 19th century (think: Brandenburger Tor). During the 1980ies there was time for a new dusting of of the old Greeks as the post modern movement started using and mixing different parts ("quoting") ancient architecture in new ways. The most well known example of this is probably Piazza d'Italia by Charles Moore.

Inspired by this perpetual repetition and the configuration of the ancient orders in new ways, I made 9 drawings during the summer of 2009. The drawings show a mechanical design that can be used to translate a rotating axis, but where the axis has been replaced by a column. I did 9 different to capture all combinations of the classical orders. I think that the translation of a rotational motion has a poetic ring to it and it is a fitting metaphor for aesthetic development over the ages.

I would like to frame all nine and hang them in a 3 by 3 matrix. But right now we don't have enough wall space for that, so it will have to wait.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Northern light? yeah right!

Ever heard of northern light? Well, right now all we have is northern darkness. The sun barely comes up before it descends again. Even though I'm born here I'm never going to get used to it.

Anyways... dreaming of summer I went through my drawings from the summer of 2009. Here are a couple of pictures that I did during some warm, lazy days. I hope you will enjoy them and that they bring back memories of sitting in a park on a sunny day with nothing to do.

Game of Life

This is a project I built in October 2009.
It all started when I got the beautiful black frame you can see in the photo. Since the picture in the frame wasn't equally beautiful, I got the idea to replace it with a game of life simulation on a dot-matrix. The whole thing is actually quite hypnotic to watch, and it sure is pretty.

The design is based on an ATMega8 that runs the simulation and four 8x8 dot LED matrices from To drive the dot matrices, I'm using four daisy chained MAX7221 (serially interfaced led display drivers). I needed the serial interface since the atmega obviously doesn't have 256 i/o pins to turn LED's on and off. Below are two images of the controller card; drawing and actual.

I also added a LM2940 5V low dropout voltage regulator (top left corner), to be able to power it reliably with a battery.

This is the initial configuration of the simulation. I think alpha and omega is fitting in a game of life simulation, don't you?

Playing with Persistence

Since my croquis class was unexpectedly canceled today, I found myself with a couple of hours of spare time. I've been wanting to build a POV-gadget (Persistence of Vision) since I first saw the one by ladyada ( and with nothing else to do, I started going through my electronic supplies.

The design is really basic. Take one attiny84, 8 LEDs and 8 resistors (to limit the current through the LEDs). The idea is to flash the diodes at 400Hz to create an image (using the persistence of human vision). The image will appear if you quickly move the LEDs (or yourself) back and forth.

I created an image in GIMP and used the "save as .h-file" to get a C-style array. It needed some minor post processing, like transposing, but it was fairly straight forward.

The C-code to control the LED's turning on and off is inspired by the ladyada implementation. It uses a timer interrupt every 1/400 second to set the LEDs to show the next column of the image. I'm using the internal RC-resonator on the avr chip since precision timing is not important here, so there is no need for a crystal.

So how did it come out? Well, it's kind of hard to get an image of it... but by rapidly moving the camera I managed to get a decent picture.

I'm such a h4x00r :)