Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Maker Faire

According to Wikipedia, Maker Faire is an event created by Make Magazine to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset". According to me, it's a festival of creativity. Every year I've been there I've been blown away by the ingenuity, the friendliness, the innovation, the enthusiasm, and—especially the last couple of years with it attracting a more mainstream crowd—the excitement of hundreds of wide-eyed kids. It's enormously energizing.

There are homemade human-powered vehicles, cars modified to get 100mpg+, science experiments, flames and kinetics, lasers, Tesla coils, soldering workshops and surface-mounting classes. There's a life-sized mousetrap setup, neon light glass-blowing, wooden computers, high-speed photography, metalworking, and much more. It's a unique and phenomenal gathering of geeks, artists, and imaginative souls.

Witness "Deus Ex Machina, a large-scale swing with a computer controlled interactive water plane that makes shapes and text. Using water released from solenoid valves, a plane is created in front of the swing rider. A sensor tells the machine the rider's position as shapes and messages descend in the rider's path". Amazingly clever (see the video) and huge fun for kids:

Swing

There was also The Ant, an enormous interactive installation spewing fire out of its arched back. Eight pads at ground level, amenable to pounding by adrenalized children, controlled fiery emissions from eight separate flame-throwers mounted high above:

The Ant

Check out the crazy piano, too. I'm not even quite sure what this is or how it related to the central Maypole but it was pretty cool:

Steampunk Piano

Steampunk is quite a "thing" at Maker Faire and it prompted me to do some research on what it is and where it's from. Short story, my interpretation: an alternate future projected forward from the pre-electronic mid-1800s. Intricate and clever gadgets abound, but powered by springs or steam. If nothing else it reminds you of the pointlessness of projecting a century forward from where you are. Nigh impossible to predict the upcoming technological revolutions.

Steampunk

Like many a faire, there's ice cream:

Kid at Ice Cream Store

Wendy enjoyed this aspect too.

Wendy Eats

Full set of photos on Flickr.

3 comments:

Jeremy said...

Wonderful!
I really want to attend one of these years. If they end up doing one on the east coast this year, I will try to make it - but there is nothing like the spirit of the Bay Area.

gentry said...

I usually love the Maker Faire, but this year it was tainted by Cara's reaction when I told her I was going. "Ugh. Maker Fair is like Etsy live. A bunch of homemade crap."

Well, that and the fact that my 4 year-old ran off into the crowds at least 4 times.

Matt said...

Kinda left me cold. I feel souless saying so, but it's too diffuse, and there's too little good stuff to outweigh all the "homemade crap" :-(