Last weekend was "Cold Compress", the Toronto Decompression, which is a Burning Man afterparty. I took the train to Toronto for the weekend, arriving in time to go to a small Friday night gathering of mostly Burners hosted by Ted. The real gathering was on Saturday :)

On Saturday I slept in, then headed to the venue to install Double Dazzle. After that I visited Eric at Hacklab for a couple of hours, then went back to the venue to help others prepare their stuff. At 8 I did a short "greeter" shift checking wristbands at the entrance, and then at 9 I joined the party. It still wasn’t all that full, which is a bit strange to me. Why don’t more people show up at 9 (or earlier) to have more time for fun??

Anyway, it was a great party. Any party that includes awesome people, great costumes, a bouncy castle, an icosahedron you could play in [*], etc. has got to be fun! Shortly before 4, I took down Double Dazzle and headed home with Amira, my host.

So, what was Double Dazzle? Unfortunately it was mostly a learning experience… the idea was to test concepts for Double Rainbow, which is a larger artwork that Ryan will hopefully be bringing to Burning Man this year, and in that way it was successful. As art, it was not. But anyway:

The artwork consists of a breakbeam (built from a laser pointer and a photocell), two LED stage lights, and a controller.

The lights are arranged to "dazzle" anyone who walks through the breakbeam (half a second of blinking light), then if they stay for longer, they cycle through some fun blinky effects. Leaving the breakbeam resets the sequence, so the next person is "dazzled" again.

What didn’t work:
1. My homemade breakbeam design sucks. It went out of alignment after about 30 minutes. I fixed it once, but didn’t feel like babysitting it all night. Next time I’m going to use a commercial breakbeam (maybe from a garage door) or Ryan is talking about using a completely different sensor type for Double Rainbow.
2. The placement was very bad. This was through no fault of the art placement team, who gave me lots of options for where to put it and let me choose. I chose a place at the end of the main room, by a door I was told would be closed. Well, it was closed most of the time, but venue staff were using it to come and go with stuff for the bar, and there was a security guard standing in front of it the whole time… not really inviting for anyone who wanted to check out the art! Oh well :) :)

OK, and it’s photo time. I’m slowly getting through a huge backlog of photos, most of them from way before the trip. So now you can check out:

[*] I think it was an icosahedron, but I didn’t count the faces. Too busy playing with it. How it worked: the edges were made of metal tubing bolted together at the vertices, and each vertex also had an eye bolt on the inside. Each eye bolt was connected to all the others (except where that would duplicate a metal edge) with rope. You took off your shoes and spent time balancing, rolling, etc. while people outside steadied the thing or moved it around. It was a really neat toy :)