Instructables

Electric Bonsai "A New Sustainable Themed Art Form" Intro-Part #1 The Story of Windy

Picture of Electric Bonsai
                                           Introduction-Why Sustainable Themed Art?
                                                 "I made it at TechShop" San Jose Ca. 
                                                            http://www.techshop.ws
 
This is the first part of a series and introduction into a new art form I call 'Electric Bonsai'.

There are some basic rules to this medium:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: Because this is sustainable art you can't buy anything new, accept for glue, solder, bonding agents, sanding aids, sealers, cleansers and batteries (hopefully rechargeable by renewable energy such as Solar or Wind) .

Rule #3: All materials must be repurposed, recycled, junk, garbage, donated, broken, discarded, used or given away. (OK, if you have to buy anything then go to the Goodwill, get it at a garage sale or purchased at the Dollar Store or must be marked down at 50% or greater at a discount store like Walmart, Target).

Rule #4: Something must work on your art form. Just gluing a bunch of stuff together doesn't cut it. You must be clever enough to figure out how to make it work by hand or electricity or steam or wind or solar. Make it come to life and have a character, a 'personality' if you will. Your art work MUST NOT ever be plugged into the grid in order for it to operate. Power must come from renewable means or human power.

Rule #5: Try to use 'Human-Energy' and/or Human open source programming intelligence as much as possible. And when you can try and use solar or wind energy when you do use power tools. If you have to use the Grid-plan your model for as little energy use as possible. (Night time electricity is cheaper then day time electricity in terms of kWh Kilo Watt Hour. (Look on your electric bill, this is how the utility company charges you. The average American household uses 35 kWh and day. Yet, in Las Vegas in the summer to keep the air conditioning on 24/7 the average daily use is 55 kWh! (I used to live there. Now I'm back home in Silicon Valley San Jose Ca. home of the PC).

Rule #6: If you use a controller board it must be open-source and affordable. Arduino and the Raspberry Pi come to mind. You must share the code on your first and all publications. (Purchases of a controller board does not violate the you can't buy anything rule). In fact it can be pretty cool when you give your art a brain.

Rule #7: Follow a 'Theme'-but not if your in another mood. The 'Theme' I use and have coined is Eco-Steampunk Sustainability.

Rule #8: Your art piece should tell a story and have a name. Part of this medium is to bring things to 'life' and give it character. The first living interactive sculpture I will introduce is named 'Windy'.

Rule #9: Let the interactive sculpture 'tell-you' what it want's to be. Don't force it! Go with the natural flow. Think nature not machine. Bonsai because you have to 'train' the medium to work with you in the direction it wants to go. Also, because it's a ZEN thing.

Rule #10: Use good engineering. Just as IBM used to say 'THINK' it out. Merge technology with hand craftsmanship. And don't make an 'ugly' model. This is a saying we use at our Remote Control flying field. Just because it can fly don't mean its pretty. Use good craftsmanship; clean cuts, no glue drips, nice solder joints etc. Rate your model from 1-10. 1 = ugly as sin, 10 = perfection. Don't make anything under a '7' because it will look like crap. And never make a '10' because it cost to much and takes to long. If your a student trying to make a '10' your going to fail your classes because you'll be using all your study time up. And, if your married and spending that much time on a silly model, then you won't be married for long!

Why a new art form? Because economically we as a society have gotten out of hand. We have become a 'Disposable  Society' where we throw everything away without even thinking about it. That is why I love the movie WALL-E http://adisney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/wall-e/ so much. It really shows the destructive path we are on.

OK, before we get started here's what Steampunk is all about; it is the fusion between The Victorian Age and Science Fiction. It has the 'Jules Verne' look. You know the guy that wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Around the World in Eighty Days. http://www.redbubble.com/people/steviem/works/1150997-the-jules-verne-train

Most 'Steampunker' agree that there are 3 themes to Steampunk. 1). Western 2). Victorian 3). Post-Apocalyptic. We respectfully submit a 4th theme, because we live by its main principle which comes from Architectural Graphic Standards Eleventh Edition in the section on Sustainability. Sustainable Design Framework of Good Design Principles and Process. Principles of Sustainable Design page 832: 3). 'Respect relationships between spirit and matter'. 

Our 4th Steampunk Theme is: 'eco-Steampunk'. If we live by its main principle we shall never reach an Apocalyptic Era.  

A New Industrial Revolution. Many believe such as I do that we are experiencing a new industrial revolution where people are starting to use their imaginative spirit and make things again. Some, even think this mindset may help bring back manufacturing to America. With the aid of new affordable fabricating machine technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Shopbots, CNC CAD/CAM milling machines, accessible industrial level welders, waterjets that can cut through metal like butter and powerful computer systems and low cost programmable microcontrolers with I/O ports the sky is the limit in terms of making our dreams come true.

Eco-Steampunk is fueled by imagination, respects the planet and is fun to make.

Now on to Step 1: Wood Carving.


 
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