The Teylers Museum in the Netherlands is presenting Out of This World – The Search for Planets. It’s a fascinating exhibit that deals with the history of space exploration.
Besides the beautiful exhibit design (that makes exquisite use of vintage sci-fi art), one highlight for visitors is, of course, the chance to sit down at a computer and try out “If the Moon Were Only One Pixel.”
A lot of interesting people have stopped by to scroll through the scale map of the solar system. If there was one reward from this unpaid “curiosity project” it was that I was reminded just how many kind and smart people are alive in the world today.
Many of them shared words of support, some shared inspiring thoughts and others had ideas for improvements. Just recently I managed to implement a few of those ideas, with help from even more kind and smart people. I got quite a nice head-start on the scripting thanks to Kyle Murray (Krilnon at kirupa.com) who I’ve never met, and am beginning to suspect is some kind of benevolent super-being.
Here are the new digital accoutrements you can enjoy on your next journey through scaled-down space:
Fancy language translator.
I definitely couldn’t have done this part on my own, mostly because I only speak English (and Google translate would make my writing appear as though it were written by, well… a computer. A computer with brain damage.) For those unfortunates whose first language is not the official tongue of the global monoculture, you can now find a little icon in the upper right that lets you convert the text on the map to whichever archaic language is spoken on the streets of your charming village.
This feature was made possible by the translation work of friends, family, and kind, foreign pen-pals. I will name them here, so when people Google their names, they will be directed to this page: Niaz Uddin, Naomi Kasahara, Shirley Worth (my Aunt), Thorsten Frey, H-D Honscheid, Marcel Schäfer, José Roberto V. Costa, Fransje Pansters at the Teylers Museum, Lorenzo Matellán, Claudia Rodriguez-Ortega, David Chatenay, Pierre Houzé, and Khrys from France.
Another new, much-requested feature is the light-speed button in the lower right, which, when pressed, will demonstrate just how ridiculously slow the universe moves, relativitively speaking. (Note the hilarious wordplay.) Even though I was aware that light takes 8.5 minutes to get from the sun to the earth, I was alarmed at how impatient I felt when I first saw the tick marks inching along. I never thought I would say I felt like the speed of light was too slow. It makes our hopes of getting to a distant planet seem pretty bleak, unless we can outsmart physics.
Now the vast distances between the sun and planets can be measured using the scale of your choosing. I even figured out how to insert comma delimiters, in case that somehow helps you to better grasp ridiculously large numbers.
And finally, for the truly lazy, I added some hidden shortcuts to help you traverse the expanses in a less tiresome manner. You’ve got a couple secret buttons that auto-scroll from one point of interest to the next, and there’s a script that, if working properly, will convert the vertical movement of your scroll-wheel to horizontal scrolling. While these features almost entirely defeat the purpose of the project by eliminating the need to actively scroll through the endless void, they will hopefully allow people to resume their productive activities in a more timely manner.
Thanks again to everyone who supported this project through their Likes, Retweets and words encouragement! And thanks to my Dad, Al Worth for the debugging help!
Here’s a little book I made as a Kickstarter reward for people who backed the Soft Camp – an art installation for kids I put together during the summer of 2013. The book introduces the characters and the setting, and was used as inspiration for the other artists who contributed to the project. Of course, the real story took place on the Popwagon, the mobile art stage of Trade City Productions.
This is a projection loop I made for Maureen’s production of Susan Sontag’s play Alice in Bed at Loyola Marymount University. The video was projected on a hanging sheet during a monologue at the end of the first scene in which bed-ridden Alice James imagines what it would be like to visit Rome.
Sometimes my 5 year old drives me nuts with her attachment to things like balloons and cupcakes that I can’t possibly preserve for all eternity. She also creates and says things that turn me into a weepy-eyed wuss-bag when I realize I can’t bottle them up and save them forever. So where better to turn than Tumblr? Whenever there’s a precious moment or piece of ephemera doomed to be swept from the beach of memory by time’s relentless tides, I just snap a picture and post it to a micro-blog! Yay! Say goodbye to the transience of childhood!