Maker Faire Ottawa Is A Perfect Platform for Innovative Art and Beyond

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Maker Faire Ottawa Is A Perfect Platform for Innovative Art and Beyond

14672916_10154520661214070_115189753_oThe beauty of Maker Faires across the globe is that each one is a unique and exhilarating blend of tech and tradition, future and past, pros and novices, and everything in between. Maker Faire Ottawa, now in its sixth year and taking place this weekend on October 15 and 16 at Aberdeen Pavilion in Lansdowne Park, is certainly no exception. For makers, having a physical environment where they can share the things they’ve so proudly and painstakingly made, is priceless. Maker Faire is known as the best place to get valuable feedback on your products, wares, or creations, and there is no more enthusiastic audience than Maker Faire attendees.

This year, among the scores of interesting, innovative, and diverse exhibits is a special section named the Preternatural Exhibition, an art show co-curated by Ohio State University Professor Ken Rinaldo and Maker Faire curator Remco Volmer. They invited artists whose works “address the perspectives of animals, media and technological representations, ecosystems, futures, coevolution, symbiosis and friction between human and non-humans. These include 3D rapid-prototyped sculptures, 3D animations, robotic artworks, performance, and moving image art installations.”

Below are a few of the pieces that will be on display in the Preternatural Exhibition, with descriptions in the artists’ own words. Needless to say, what you see here is just a fraction of the innovation and creativity waiting for you at Maker Faire Ottawa this weekend. Check out the full list of exhibiting makers and workshops for more details!

Firefly Plant by Madeleine Rico


The Firefly Plant was fabricated to serve as a biomimicry to fireflies’ produced light to examine if they can sense their own kind through luminescence alone. An artificial light, preferably phosphorescent, shines through an inner network of veins, out of the three buds, and creates the same hue as that of the lightning bugs, drawing them to the buds like bees to flowers. A mobile phone would be held firmly in place at a close distance where it would record any presence of insects.

SIMON by Jeremy Viny


SIMON is an interactive wearable headset designed to read and translate the emotional state of users. SIMON records electrical activity in the brain via an EEG monitor. Data is transcribed in color according to a users’s cognitive state (i.e. relaxed [blue], stressed [red], tired [yellow], focused [green], etc). A collective color based on averages in the user’s neurological activity is displayed by the headset’s imbedded LEDs.

SIMON connects people, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, etc. This empathy-inducing platform disrupts a traditional social interactivity as it turns a user’s affect inside-out across lights inside the headset and visuals. This transformative public art experience is made possible via a new and novel confluence of public art practice, scientific method, interface design, and open source technologies. We hope to create an innovative space for users to find common ground in a world full of people increasingly defined by their differences.


The human-animal’s awareness of its own existence is widely accepted as a phenomena unique to the human experience. The Heideggerian notion of “Dasein, as being-towards-the end” refers to a being’s awareness of life as finite. This intuition informs many of the individual’s temporal interactions. At the age of 11, I experienced the “Bodies Exhibition.” Seeing the peculiar showing of lifeless unmistakably human bodies in lively poses proved a catalyst for my first very own pre-teen existential crisis. Subsequently I began to grapple with the questions surrounding a view in which death is seen as finite. This piece is 3D modeled in Cinema 4D and printed on the Series 1 Type A Machines, and the 3D-printed model resembles a dissected fox squirrel. Akin to my own experience at the “Body Exhibition” squirrels inquisitively walked towards and around their dissected representation of self. Did the squirrel see himself? If so, did the squirrel experience awareness of the end as finite? What, if any emotions, transcend boundaries of awareness between species?

Sensory Deprivation Helmet by Jordan Reynolds


The Sensory Deprivation Helmet is a device that can be placed over the user’s head to deprive them of their senses. The helmet was inspired by sensory deprivation chambers that would inhibit a person of all their senses. My intention was to develop a personalized version of the sensory deprivation chamber that could be used anywhere as an escape from reality and deprive the body of any external sensory input. With this helmet, the user has the ability to hinder their body’s ability to see, hear, taste, and smell.

Selfie Moment by Ethan Schaefer


Housed within the terrarium is a model of a stick insect, native to the Midwest, the Northern Walking Stick, with clippings of Pyracantha Coccinea, a native plant that the insect thrives on. iPhones mounted on the Selfie Sticks are equipped with motion-detecting cameras, capturing movement that occurs both inside and outside the terrarium.

Selfie Moment explores the relationship between viewer and viewed, conformity and the spectacle. Everyday images from mobile phones proliferate the streams of media we absorb. The labor of these images has been outsourced to bystanders on the street, leaving their messages open to ideological agendas. If these innocent bystanders are the new journalists, are they still innocent? Selfie Moment attempts to blur the line between viewer and viewed, questioning where agency lies within the spectacle.

LOVE/HATE by Catherine Lee


LOVE/HATE lives in this world with no control of its movements. The robot is connected to Twitter and when the word “love” or “hate” appears, it moves towards one direction or another. At the end of the day, where will LOVE/HATE find itself?

A New Way of Seeing by Danner Seyffer-Sprague


This device was meant to not only observe, but also serve as temporary shelter for small decomposer flies. Naturally, different forms of compost attract different flies. This device was created in hopes of recording what materials serve as ideal breeding grounds for specific species. To operate the device, one must simply collect dead/decaying matter (fruit, compost, flesh, etc) and place it inside of the stump’s basin. Not only is the container open to the air, but the base is an open grid to allow waste material to return to the earth as it breaks down and decomposes. To record the subjects, I have created a slot on the tallest mushroom model to holster a smart device to videotape them. I’ve made sure to place it somewhere moderately shady to prevent the compost from drying too quickly. The device itself has been designed to mimic the appearance of an old, dead stump that has rotted away to the point where just the husk remains. There are also three natural mushrooms that, while aromatic, are purely cosmetic to enhance the natural feel of the piece.


This is a device that lets one experience the tactile world with their nose in 3D. The device connects from the nostrils to the fingertips via surgical tubing, thus allowing the user to effectively smell multiple objects at once (with their hands, of course), much like how a butterfly experiences the world, but with smell rather than taste. The device attaches to each nostril separately inside of the mask, which in turn grants individual access to each hand. Only the right nostril can smell what the right hand is interacting with, and so on. Hopefully, this device will ultimately allow one to smell something in “3D” so to speak and find their way to an object (while blindfolded) by simply expanding their range of smell to their fingertips. The thick gloves were chosen to hinder the wearer’s ability to identify the object he/she is interacting with simply by touch, thus forcing the wearer to rely primarily on scent.

Perception by Danielle Popp


The sun rises at the dawn of a new day, sending beams of energy to the surface. Humans cannot transform this energy source into food. Plants remain the only organism capable of this feat. We cultivate and care for plants and they provide us with essential nutrients. I explore this symbiotic relationship by animating plants; giving them a sense of agency through projected light. The cone-shaped planters relate to the cones in our eyes that let us visually experience the earth around us. We need light to see, build, and expand, and plants need light to live. Together, plants and people are involved in an interdependent system of survival.

Surrealist Bird Calls #41–#60 & AutoTuned Doors by Trademark Gunderson


“Why do the bird wings fly off of their bodies?” A glimpse into the world of surrealist bird watching with bird calls, notes, and artifacts. From Falco Absurdum to Catherpes Mysticus, this art installation explores an alternate reality that separates the wings from the birds.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Doors!” It’s musical, it’s a door, but it’s not those Doors — it’s an AutoTuned door, and you can interact with its squeaky (yet musical) hinges by opening and closing it.

And speaking of innovative art, Maker Faire Ottawa is proud to host special guest Dutch fashion technologist extraordinaire Anouk Wipprecht presenting a new iteration of her Drinkbot Dress.

For all the information you need to get inspired at Maker Faire Ottawa this weekend, head to the website!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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