Despite Singularity Hub’s blogginess (yes it’s a word) most of my posts aren’t inspired by personal real life events. Well today is different. After being chased by hundreds of costumed competitors through the streets of San Francisco on Halloween night (true story), I ended up at Noisebridge, a Bay Area hackspace. They have dozens of really cool projects, including Muralizer, a prototype system that draws murals on walls. Using vector graphics files on a computer, the very simple device traces the picture across a vertical flat surface. Like so many other hackjobs, it still needs a lot of work, but it’s a great example of how the digital world can be projected into our own. Check out the video after the break.
Like a virus, art tends to infect whatever new technology we create. From cave drawings to augmented reality, humans don’t seem capable of inventing a tool without thinking about how they can entertain each other with it. While we often focus on the utility of developing technology, the creative/expressive portion of that technology is just as inevitable and perhaps as important. One of the biggest trading goods of industrialized countries is entertainment, fashion, and art. Devices that allow us to customize our clothes and living spaces will become sought after means in expressing ourselves. Such technology is important even from an economic standpoint – as more and more jobs become automated, people may turn to art to fulfill their need to work.
So when I said Muralizer was simple, I meant simple. Just a couple of motors, wheels and pulleys, really. Josh Myer, the creator, thinks that a build-your-own kit for the device could be fairly cheap (~$200) and would only require light soldering. After that, all you would need is a computer, some SVG (vector graphics) files and a marker. Easy and cool. If you’re interested in helping Josh fund the project, make sure to visit the Muralizer website.
We’ve certainly seen mural-like projects that are more high tech. Remember the building-sized video projection performances? And we’ve seen hacking-style creations that are more likely to shape the world – I’m thinking here of Makerbot’s 3D printer. Still there’s something about Muralizer’s simplicity that makes it cool. Maybe it’s just the idea that customizing your living space can be cheap and easy if you have the will to do so. Like computerized clothing, automated murals are a form of technology that is self-expressive – an important trend for our times. It’s too early to stamp the current generation with a label, but “do-it-yourself” may come close.
So part of the great promise of science is that it helps us understand ourselves. Artistic expression is an important part of humanity, and one of the few aspects of our minds that computers have a tough time mimicking. It’s cool to see devices that can help the community expand that expression. Technology, whether it’s cyborg exoskeletons or genetic engineering, is set to make us run faster, jump higher, and think clearer. Why not add “live more creatively” to the list?
Screen capture and video credit: Josh Myer, Muralizer.com