Legos seriously, totally RULE

Okay, this was going to be part of a larger post or something later, but i couldn’t contain myself anymore. Lego has jumped into a new universe and i needed to release some pent-up excitement before my head explodes!

Of course, i’m talking about the Lego Digital Designer. A 9MB download, for PC and Mac (have a i mentioned that i love these people?) gets you a 3D development environment and access to a limited – but still extensive – catalog of Lego parts. Once you select a rough genre (car, house, animal, robot) you can browse everything from basic 2×4 flats to windshields, tires, and trees and even hinges, antenna and Technix-style gears and axles. The build environment is smart enough to allow you to connect bricks in any way that’s realistically possible, including at odd angles to each other if the “bumps” match up that way. You can easily color-swap if the brick you’re using comes in other shades, and are nearly as free to dream up anything you want as when you dump your bucket of Lego bricks all over the carpet. It does miss the satisfying tactile feel of snapping the bricks together, but that is more than compensated for by saving you from rifling through your parts pile for an hour looking for the “other one of these.” In general, it’s a blast to build with virtual Legos.

Once built, your design can be stepped through from beginning to end, and an assembly manual automatically built, or the construction process can be summed up in an exploding parts animation. Happy with it? Want to share? Upload it to the Lego Factory Gallery so someone else can download it, pick it apart, improve on it, and resubmit.

Pretty slick, huh? Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Once a design is uploaded to the Factory, the “Check Price” button will calculate the cost of all the parts needed to build it, and they will package them up and ship you exactly the bits you need, complete with the assembly manual inside and your screenshot on top of the box! Are you grasping the gravity of this announcement? It is now possible to build your own Lego sets with exactly what you want in the box! The imaginative possibilities presented in a box of Legos, once vast, are now positively infinite and there is a whole new reason to be absolutely in awe of the people at Lego and their commitment to putting the building blocks (pun intended) in your hands and letting you create your own path. Absolutely excellent, i wish i was still a kid. Screw that, i’m going to build something anyway!

Have you hugged your art today?

Well, i guess that all depends, doesn’t it? On what you’ve hugged… and what you consider art. I like to think my definition of art is pretty broad, including things that you can hear, touch, see, smell and even taste. But since we’re on the internet here, you’re not going to be smelling any art today, unless you’re already holding a particularly fragrant cup of coffee or your office is also in Pioneer Square (i didn’t say it was *good* smelling art). Same goes for tasting any art over the internet… although that may not be too far away. And let me tell you, when they perfect tiramisu-flavored paper and chocolate ink… well, i might just have to invest in a printer. But no, today you’re just gonna see some art. Yes, i totally skipped hearing in there… but i try not to browse noisy sites at work, so i’m not going to inflict any on you.

Let’s start with something classic, something timeless… like MC Escher. You all had the poster in your room… or was i the only mathelete? Hmm… well, they were in your geometry book regardless, usually in black and white. I think they look pretty good spiced up in color, especially in one of my all-time-favorite artistic mediums, legos. This isn’t just a fluke – this dedicated Lipson gentlement has reproduced several works in cheery yellow-faced legoland. Quite the treat for the eye… and the mind! Also, makes me want to go browse the diminutive bricks aisle at Target; legos have gotten so cool!

Legos aren’t the only toys from my childhood that i’d happily regress to playing with if i could only find a way to make money doing it. Remember Transformers? Sigh… wish i had kept them. I had the original Optimus Prime, man! Anyway, i think they’re neato… but this wacko artistic guy built himself transformable wearable halloween costumes to mimic his favorite interchangeable plastic car-men. Next time you’re going to make fun of me for my binary digits clock… just think about all the things i *don’t* do with my free time… yeah.

Lest you think i’m engrossed only by math and plastic toys, let’s delve into some cute, fuzzy art over at the Infinite Cat Project. The idea here is a random one; this guy had a picture of his cat on his computer, right? And he caught his cat looking at said picture on the monitor, and took a picture of the curious furball. So it’s a picture of his cat, looking at a computer featuring a picture of a cat. And then he gets all crazy and artistic and starts building a recursive tunnel of cats looking at this picture… just go look at it, rather than wait for me to explain it.

And then there’s some art that just makes you sick. Not cause it’s bad or anything… just cause that’s what it does. The internet is full of this sort of thing – i’m not sure if it’s the digital medium or the mentality of the online masses that makes it so pervasive, but nausea-art seems to definitely have taken a rise thanks to the good ‘ol www. Okay, i’m warning you… plant both feet firmly, sit straight in your chair, and set down the gin and tonic for just a moment. If you’re already shaky on your drug of choice today… you might want to save this one for later. Okay… click.

Well, i need some fresh air after that. Oh, i almost forgot, we still haven’t discussed some art that you can touch. Feel free to rest your head against the monitor as you click on that last one again… or just thump your head on the glass. Your choice. 🙂

Chicago: Cold but Classy

Still in Chicago, really starting to miss home and all the mountains and oceans and humidity and temperate climate… A dozen or so of us had dinner together at the Signature Room friday (96th floor of the Hancock) – classy place, nice view. We hit Michigan avenue saturday and the high-class shopping district (Macy’s, Tiffany, Bloomie’s). We found a whole store that just sells Legos, and they had a city block of Chicago built entirely from Legos – to scale: the John Hancock was about 6′ tall – that was totally sweet. Also a really good dessert shop that was entirely made of gingerbread and candy. I’m not kidding, all the walls, the roof, everything was covered in frosting and gingerbread and candy. And they gave us free cheesecake brownies (yeah!) just ’cause we thought their store was so cool.