Bruce Shapiro

Not a very sexy term. It’s the term industry uses “motion control” to describe what we often call robotics.

I was a med student the topic was chaos theory and smooth tissue in the male urethra. I learned about the idea of algorithmic art. Started computing my own Mandelbrot sets. Then and even today I don’t get that jazzed looking at at computer screen. I happened upon a stepper motor, stepper motorslet you create motion pixels. Maybe by using a computer program and messing with motion pixels you could create cool things. It took me a couple of months to really understand how to make a stepper motor run, then how to hook it up, then how to program it.

Brought the whole family together to see, they weren’t impressed. If I want to communicate how cool motion control is, I need to have a compelling demo. My kids came to the rescue, it was a week before Easter, and created a simple easter egg colorer. If you can control the position of two motors you can draw pictures, and etch-a-sketch is an excellent tool for that.

At a 3M auction I was able to get equipment that was really high-end, spent several years building my own CNC, built a plasma cutting rig. I’m passionate about using motion control for education, not just art. Was science in resident at Minneapolis science museum, from bits to bytes to bots. We used lightbulbs in class because learned painful lesson with eggs, and you can erase lightbulbs. Been really impressed to see the number of girls increase. Also got a chance tohave a more prolonged experience with math crew a middle school.

Art machines. I got better at building my CNC machines, then eBay happened making it easier even if you don’t live next to 3M making it easier to get access to this stuff. Pipedream I had 16 pixels with bubbles going through pipes. Pipedream III was trying to capture visitors faces in bubbles. Sisyphus I is a CNC machine where a magnetically controlled ball creates really interesting patterns in sand.

This may seem unrelated, inspired by ribbon dance. Created a ribbon dance CNC in Iowa. Now going to show Undula prototype. 5 years ago I got to be a visiting artist at the exploratorium, a good friend and exhibit designer had created a table-top exhibit called rope-shooter and visitors play with it. It’s like water but it’s not wet.

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