Mike Thompson‘s Blood Lamp is a sealed flask containing luminol. When the owner finds himself in need of light, the neck is broken, and the owner uses the jagged edge to cut his finger and drip blood into the liquid contained in the flask.
On a superficial level, the lamp looks like something out of Zork, or something out of an alchemical lab. (Funny, how “menstrual blood of a virgin” is never a magical ingredient. It would be in my magical world.) Thompson says his intention was to bring awareness to how much energy is consumed by each person in a year, and this work does do that in a way that only art can. The other thing that I like about this work is that it uses blood as an energy source.
Like many people, I’ve fantasized about blood powered medical implants, and wondered how such implants would effect the patient’s appetite and energy levels. Earlier this year, an implantable glucose powered fuel cell was tested. Recreating the glucose fuel cell, is probably difficult to make at home, but a blood lamp can be made with a simple order of luminol from online suppliers. Place a solar cell around the luminol, and very inefficient blood powered device can be yours.
Design collaborative Mad Lab‘s chandelier Bacterioptica (located somewhere in New Jersey, much like Toxie. No, not that one, this one.) features exposed fiber optics (courtesy of Del Lighting) routed through petri dishes full of bacteria. As the bacteria colonies mature, the light is attenuated.
Mad Lab’s site implies that it’s available as a kit, but I don’t know if I want E. Coli hanging above the dinner table. Still, the light looks very cool, and I imagine that the light diffused through agar would be very interesting indeed.
Looking at the photos of the air quality balloons, I thought of how they resembled sky lanterns, the small hot air balloons popular in parts of Asia. (The “trick” is fire proofing the paper.) I would like to make one of these, but living in California, I’m afraid they’d turn into fire balloons. Yes, a nonflammable equivalent could be made with Helium and some LEDs, but it doesn’t seem the same. The simple elegance of a bag and a flame is part of the attraction of the lanterns to me.
“Tethered balloon specialists”, Aerophile, a European balloon company, has installed a glowing balloon over Paris to inform Parisians of the local air quality. Named Air de Paris and located in the Parc Andre Citroën, the balloon relays data from sensors deployed throughout Paris as part of the CITEAIR project.
This work draws an obvious comparison to the work of Stacey Kuznetsov, a student in Eric Paulous‘s lab at CMU. Her Air Quality balloons, integrated a air quality sensor along with RGB LEDs directly into a weather balloon, to provide local, rather than regional air quality information. I have no idea of Aerophile contacted Stacy Kuznetsov, or what, but the idea of local information.
How it traveled to Sweden, and how long it took, is anyone’s guess.
This story reminds me of the shark tooth clubs found buried at Cahokia Mounds in Southern Illinois. Obviously, the clubs weren’t local, and had made their way through a trade network to just outside St Louis. When I visited Cahokia in early high school and learned of the clubs, I imagined them being traded from person to person all the way up from Florida. Each transaction moving the them further inland, and therefore making them rarer and more valuable. Now that I’m older, I think they probably became more of a curiosity, rather than an valuable piece. “That weird fish club,” instead of “the rare exotic fish club,” so to speak. Still, multiple people probably paid a premium for them. Just not a large one.
Bashkim Isai has hooked up a plant so that it gets its nourishment from interacting a social networks. Named Meet Eater, the plant receives a dose of water every time someone performs a social gesture about it on Facebook. After 91 days, it currently has 8140 fans.