Porta Hedge at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The Porta Hedge contributed briefly to the holiday cheer in the Oak Grove at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as students prepared for finals and the holiday break. IUP grad student Bifei Cao helped decorate the Hedge with LED Christmas lights and we successfully field tested the Porta Hedge solar system’s capabilities to power Christmas lights in addition to its internal power demands. For a quick look at the benefits of using LED lights, see Gizmodo’s review The Pros and Cons of LED Christmas Lights or the Washington Daily Globe’s LED Christmas: Lights offer holiday glow, energy savings.

Many thanks to Kyle Houser, the gallery director at IUP who brought the Porta Hedge to campus!

Jessica Longobardo’s Leaf Tattoos in the Porta Hedge

For the exhibition Engineering Eden at Allegheny College, artist Jessica Longobardo compiled three handmade booklets for three of her friends, each of whom comes from a distinct bioregion in the United States. Each booklet includes a map illustrating the distribution of tree species in a specific region and drawings of those trees’ leaves.

Longobardo then tattooed each of her friends with the leaves representing the trees native to each person’s home region. For the exhibition, Longobardo photographed the tattoos and displayed the photos along with the booklets.

As the exhibition’s closing event, Longobardo set up a temporary tattoo parlor in the Porta Hedge (which is technically native to no region, but available to any region with roads) on the Allegheny College campus and invited passersby to find out what trees grow in their hometown, and then to select one of those trees as a basis for a leaf tattoo.

More photos at the Porta Hedge Travel Blog

Leaf Tattoos in the Porta Hedge
Ginko Leaf Tattoo in the Porta Hedge (A Non-Native Request)
Handmade Leaf Booklet by Jessica Longobardo
Handmade Leaf Booklet by Jessica Longobardo
Sugar Maple Tattoo by Jessica Longobardo
Sugar Maple Tattoo by Jessica Longobardo

Off-the-Shelf Cyborg Beetles?

U.C. Berkeley’s Michael Maharbiz and a team of colleagues recently presented a giant flower beetle whose flight they could command by remote-control. Implanted electrodes and a radio receiver strapped to the beetle’s back give the human operator complete control over the beetles flight pattern, and at 1.3 grams, the apparatus leaves enough payload capability for a surveillance camera.

This striking video illustrates the computer flight commands as they are relayed from the human operator to the computer to the beetle, and makes visible the beetle’s incorporation into the mechanical experimental apparatus.

The team’s paper on the project can be found at the IEEE’s Digital Library.  The paper abstract says, “We present an implantable flight control microsystem for a cyborg beetle. The system consists of multiple inserted neural and muscular stimulators, a visual stimulator, a polyimide assembly and a microcontroller. The system is powered by two size 5 cochlear microbatteries. The insect platform is Cotinis texana, a 2 cm long, 1-2 gram Green June Beetle. We also provide data on the implantation of silicon neural probes, silicon chips, microfluidic tubes, and LED’s introduced during the pupal stage of the beetle.”

It seems simple enough, so when will parents be able to buy these beetles as birthday presents for their children?

Halloween Bumblebees

The Porta Hedge stopped over in a small suburb in Syracuse, New York for Halloween this week.  Our hosts served candy to trick-or-treaters from inside the Hedge as parents congregated at its door, asking if we made it as a prop for Halloween.  Highlights include our first Bumblebee visitors and a large inflatable man.

Parents and Trick-or-Treaters Congregate Around the Porta Hedge

Bumblebee Twins

Another Bumblebee Visits the Hedge

Large Man in the Hedge Refuses to Sit on the Swings

Trees Run on Dunkin’?

This gift card case that I picked up at Dunkin’ Donuts this summer would seem to indicate that Dunkin’ Donuts believes their slogan America Runs on Dunkin’ has extended to Trees Run on Dunkin’, or that America=Tree.

There is a slight chance that these gift card cases were overstock from last Christmas (Christmas Trees Run on Dunkin’ or Christmas Runs on Dunkin’?) and simply remained out on the shelf… but that would collapse Dunkin’ Donuts’ grand vision of ecologically diverse coffee dependence and deprive us of these ambitious, yet feasible slogans under the world dependence model:

Forests Run on Dunkin’
Paper Mills Run on Dunkin’
USPS Runs on Dunkin’
Junk Mail Runs on Dunkin’
Landfills Run on Dunkin’
(as a bonus to artists and crafters, we could also add: Papier-mâché Runs on Dunkin’)

Opening Reception at Grounds for Sculpture

The Terrestrial Shrub Rover debuted this weekend at the Grounds for Sculpture. The reception was a wonderful event and celebrated the opening of the Fall/Winter Exhibition at the Grounds, which includes the 2009 Outstanding Student Achievement in Sculpture show, a show of recent work by Jacobo de la Serna, and a show of work by Albert Paley.

George Ericson and Justin Shull
George Ericson and Justin Shull
Terrestrial Shurb Rover at Grounds for Sculpture
Terrestrial Shurb Rover at Grounds for Sculpture
A Look Inside the Terrestrial Shrub Rover
A Look Inside the Terrestrial Shrub Rover

Terrestrial Shrub Rover in the Works

The Terrestrial Shrub Rover is taking shape this week in preparation for its debut at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ on October 10. As the photo shows, while the general form and structure of the Rover are resolved, it still awaits an epoxy shell and its branches.

The epoxy shell that will cover the Shrub Rover will be a VOC Free Epoxy Resin manufactured by MAS Epoxies, who has generously provided material sponsorship for the Shrub Rover. Anyone who has used standard polyester resin knows how toxic the fumes are to both the worker and the environment, so check out the MAS Low Viscosity Resin for a friendlier alternative.