A few weeks ago I went to Dorkbot and it was AMAZING. Sometime in between Revenge of the Nerds and now these guys have really improved their social capital. Must have something to do with computers. There were three presentations from five dorks, who per event requirements were “doing strange things with electricity”. The first was Eric Sanner, who has been working with moving paintings , which justified his appearance and opened the door to his electricity irrelevant, but funnier talk about traffic cones (he photographed every cone between Tokyo and Kyoto as a modern recreation woodblock artist Hiroshige).
Next came Daniela Kostova & Olivia Robinson, a duo making sweat batteries. Don’t worry, they aren’t very efficient and it is more of a metaphor for sweat equity than anything else. FYI, almost any fluid can be used to conduct electrons between two substances; urine was one of the first. A guy in the back asked if they had tried “using ejaculate fluid?” Someone had to. We were all thinking it. The people around me chirped in hushed tones “bad taste” and “dumb question”. The researchers admitted they hadn’t.
One of the audience members had ordered pizzas for the event and everyone was just so fucking happy. Because of the congestion at the table by the time I got back to my seat for the final talk, Breck and Splinter of Brooklyn Aerodrome were already talking about Towels. I missed why they call it a Towel, but these are nearly indestructible little flying pieces of trash that you build from scratch for around $100 – and you learn basic robotics over the course of the three hour build session. You can tech out with servos and some true DIY tactics that include piano wire, cut up credit cards, bbq skewers, and shrink wrap. Breck got all worked up talking about the difference between lithium ion and. lithium polymer battery packs and then spun off into autonomous drone pilot systems and using an on-board camera that would have its video footage feed into goggles on someone’s head – “CIA shit”. At the end of the presentation, Breck ignored clamors for indoor flying and took us out to the street and launched his little Towel, with its long tentacle-tail and night lights, into the air and flew it above the Grand Theft Auto mural at Greene and Canal. Taxis stopped and he did a North by Northwest flyby over a woman shuffling along with her groceries. For the landing, he shut it off and glided it into his hand like he was re-arming a falcon. Info after this sweet night flying video: