electree+ green solar charge bonsai tree, image source: Kickstarter.com
electree+, a recent Kickstarter project, plans to build a really stylish solar bonsai tree for your home or office table, that can charge your smart mobile devices. It’s tiny solar leaves collect the power of the sun and directly route it into your iPhone. The electree+ harvests solar energy through 27 high-quality amorphous-silicon square solar panels, each ~3.7″ wide. Its branches extend vertically to an apex of ~16″ high. Energy is stored in a 14,000mAh internal battery capable of recharging an iPhone5 over nine times, a Galaxy S3 ~seven times, or an iPad2 twice without light exposure
Part sculpture, part appliance, the electree+ challenges preconceptions about the role of artwork by dissolving the barrier between aesthetic and pragmatic.
Look at this nice clay sculpture by Ben Hollis and Eva Funderburgh who chose an unusual material to house their Arduino in. The porcelain gives off a soft glow in staggered rhythms provided by the super bright LEDs underneath the nodules.
Arduino is used more and more by arts and design projects to implement some physical computing applications. It’s easy and intuitive way of programming microcontrollers is a welcomed opportunity for non programmers to model some physical enabled applications. You can light some multicolor LEDs, read out sensor values of all kinds and control all sorts of actuators, such as stepper motors, brushless motors, linear motors and many more.
Sometimes, when the stars are right, the talent for metal sculpture and the talent for machining manifest in one person. It doesn’t happen often, in my experience, but when it does the results are usually mind-blowing. In my years of writing for MAKE, I can think of only a couple of other artist-machinists whose work has affected me in the same way as Chris Bathgate’s: Mark Ho, whose intricately articulated bronze-and-stainless mannequins I wrote about in MAKE Vol 30, and GarE Maxton, whose interlocking solid puzzles are machined in multiple metals and include parts that can be reassembled into other, working machines.
Chris has just released a self-published art book with photos of his catalog and beautiful plan drawings that are almost as eye-catching. It’s slim, at 84 pages, but not too pricey at $19.95. You can buy it directly from Chris’s print-on-demand service here.