Ever felt the itch to tag the streets with some projection-mapped audiovisual art while out for a stroll, making people jump back in surprise in the process? Now you can with VIDEOBLΛST_R, a wearable projection device that allows users to map eight “prepared audiovisual pieces” in any outdoor conditions.
Designed by R▲, who describes himself as an underground cyberpunk artist working in “laser alchemy and info glitch,” the VIDEOBLΛST_R’s hardware is fixed to one’s forearm and looks like something out of a Terry Gilliam film or the classic Chris Marker experimental science fiction short, La Jetée. A new video shows R▲ wandering the streets in lovely black-and-white footage, activating his audiovisual projections in a number of environments.
VIDEOBLΛST_R is comprised of eight vector graphic pieces animated via Processing. Each animated piece can be triggered by pressing buttons on Nintendo Wii Nunchuk controller. As R▲ explains on his website, a few of the pieces involved 3D animation, analog signal degradation and data bending techniques. Each visual features sonic accompaniment by sounds sampled from a Cwejman S1 modular synthesizer.
“I used to do guerrilla mapping a few years back by uploading motion graphics into my portable beamer and taking it to the streets and raves,” R▲ tells The Creators Project. “I always wanted to achieve an additional level of freedom by making it possible to interact with the projection itself. While doing some hobby electronics and device art projects, as well as being inspired by the growing DIY gadgets scene, I came up with this relatively simple design and put everything into this wearable form.”
Some of VIDEOBLΛST_R’s visuals look like hieroglyphics, while others feature GIF-like looping geometric shapes. Overall, they’re the type of projections that would work well on the fly, building on walls and other exterior surfaces and objects.
The system is mounted—in true Lo Tek cyberpunk fashion—on a rollerblade armguard and powered by a DC battery housed in an iPhone armband. The wearable is then wired to an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, while button mappings are processed via ArduinoNunchuk library. The visuals are then transferred through USB Serial to a Raspberry Pi 2 single-board computer running Processing, with audio and video output via HDMI into an Optima PK-320 projector.
“Performance of the gear highly depends on the beamer specs (lumens and throw distance) and on specifics of the graphics (color, details, animation),” R▲ explains. “I like slightly dimmed daylight (sunset, cloudy day or evening) as it's dark enough to clearly see the projection but also light enough to see (and record) surroundings and to melt black area of the projector which is noticeable in dark.”
In a stroke of whimsy, R▲ variously describes VIDEOBLΛST_R as a “videograffiti unit,” “wearable graphic beamgun,” and “action mapping device.” Don’t mistake it for a product, though. But since R▲ basically lays out how he created the wearable, this should encourage others to build upon it for some more forward-thinking wearable, projection-mapping videograffiti units.