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Slow Water, Ether Fish & Kaleida Cupboards

· 5 min read

Created for the inaugural Windermere Science Festival reacting to the theme of water.

The Cupboard Kaleida

The original Kaleidoscope was invented way back in 1817 and became a massively successful gadget the following year. We reckon it’s still as magical today as it ever was! Instead of angled mirrors in a tube, we’ve used a webcam and Raspberry Pi computer to create a rotating triangular section reflecting into loads of hexagons.

Doing things this way means everyone can enjoy their mesmerising creations together on a large screen.

People - especially kids loved trying out different petri dishes, or put something else under the scope to see what patterns they could conjure! We cut out circles of paper at the suggestion of one visitors and people had a great time seeing the images their drawings made.

Slow Water & Ether Fish

Step up and gaze upon your reflection. Step from side to side. Turn yourself around. Give yourself a wobbly wave. Take a picture of your watery twin.

These body-warping waters use Slit Scanning, an old film effect that builds static images from thin slices taken from each video frame.

It's been coded to life using Javascript, a webcam and a Raspberry Pi (an inexpensive mini-computer).

The Ether Fish below has been captured in its jar using an angled reflective surface on a screen, an update on a Victorian theatre trick called Pepper's Ghost.

Science + tech + creative coding = a weird watery wonder.

Obligatory shot of our friendly shed robot cutting some shapes for us!

Mid project chaos in the "office"!

Some lush second hand furniture gave us the basic structures

Added the Raspberry Pi with a dash of code for my first test - and a few odds and ends to set the right tone!

How about we paint it white?

And add an "Ether Fish" with the help of a hidden screen and the Pepper's Ghost technique.

Added in a sneaking Kaleidoscope in the corner cabinet too!

How about we paint the cabinet grey and use put a jar of water under the kaleidoscope! Hmm, I like it!

Yes I love these pond weed kaleidoscope images!

Hmm, I wonder if a petri dish would be better? Yes I think it is. Oooh and people could swap different dishes in and out! YES!

Like some pebbles, some weed and some thread.

All set up at the Windermere Jetty - looking good on an amazingly sunny Cumbrian day!

Jennie made some pro signs so we look totes legit!

It's all about the details - Jennie made some potion jars!

Quick double selfie before the doors open!

And we're off - first they try to figure out what's going on!

And then the dancing starts!

Because everything is very, very wibbly!

Spinning around a friend was a good move to try...

And then stopping to laugh at yourself as you create a combined tornado on screen!

Putting your head sideways and looking left and right makes your eyes go all weird!

Grown-ups being dragged into a shimmy by the kids!

Epic family dance routines ensued!

Absolutely everyone started grooving after a few demo moves - even the woman who just popped in to find the toilet!

What lovely brain hats from the Science Grrl stand!

What a wibbly baby!

Phew! What a busy and brilliant day!