Makin' Art: "Convivial Machines" at the Museum of Boulder

This engaging exhibit explores the benefits and drawbacks of technology.

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Recently, SparkFun sponsored an art exhibit at the Museum of Boulder, “Convivial Machines”, open now through February 6, 2022. The artists are local students, scientists, engineers and creatives that are part of the Boulder Experiments in Art and Technology (B.E.A.T.) meetup. “Convivial Machines” aims to emphasize the tension between the benefits that technology offers with its negative traits such as distraction, disruption, and environmental impact. The exhibit has a “light side” and “dark side” (literally) and has facilitated projects in which people collaborate and connect with each other, technology and nature. It features interactive, digital art, kinetic sculpture, music machines and much more. Let's explore a few of the exhibits.

Fantastical Tape Loop

Fantastical Tape Loop, Cha Cha & Jiffer Harriman, 2021 - photos by Priyanka Makin

Dark Side

"Enter the Dark Side" Door - photos by Priyanka Makin

One piece in the show is a collaborative music arcade built by Sean Winters, Chase Stewart, Jiffer Harriman, Torin Hopkins, Eric Atencio, and Spencer Arrasmith. “Galaga’s Ghost” allows viewers to participate and collaborate in generating music and visuals in a vintage arcade-style format.

Galaga's Ghost 1 Galaga's Ghost 2

Galaga's Ghost, Sean Winters, Chase Stewart, Jiffer Harriman, Torin Hopkins, Eric Atencio, & Spencer Arrasmith, 2021 - photos by Priyanka Makin

“Bioluminescent Touch” by Mirela Alistar and Netta Ofer highlights living dinoflagellates. Viewers are invited to interact with the algae and see them illuminate creating a connection and intimacy between people and the microorganisms.

Here are a few more snippets from the exhibit:

Bytes of Humanity

Bytes of Humanity, Gail Folwell, 2021 - photos by Priyanka Makin

Musical Dot Orchestra

Musical Dot Orchestra, Matt Moore, 2021 - photos by Priyanka Makin

Listening Lanterns

Listening Lanterns, Jiffer Harriman with special thanks to the B.E.A.T. Interactive LED Workshop participants, 2021 - video by Priyanka Makin

The B.E.A.T. meetup, founded by Jiffer Harriman, fosters explorations at the intersection of the arts with technology and science. The goal of the group is to share work, find collaborations in the community and get inspired. Pre-pandemic, Jiffer hosted various open mics and technology workshops around the city. Throughout the pandemic, the Zoom open mics have kept me sane and engaged with people. This gathering of artists and technologists offers quite a bit of overlap between the CU Boulder crowd and, more specifically, people involved in the ATLAS Institute.

Interactive LED Workshop

Interactive LED Workshop at the Museum of Boulder, 2021

B.E.A.T. Open Mic

B.E.A.T. Open Mic signage

Jiffer is a creative technologist, musician and educator based in Boulder. He runs the B.E.A.T. meetup and curated the “Convivial Machines” show. He teaches and develops courses for ATLAS and creates interactive systems for music, sound, and visual arts as well as software, PCB and embedded system design -- exactly like what we do here at SparkFun! He put a lot of work and thought into this exhibit that served as a creative opportunity and an avenue for human connection amidst a pandemic. If you’re a local, be sure visit the Museum of Boulder in the next few months and see this one-of-a-kind exhibit.

Nature Mobile

Nature Mobile in the Museum of Boulder window, Priyanka Makin, 2021 - photos by Priyanka Makin

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