Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yet Another Epic Sunday Visit to Castle Gaiman

It's getting to be a habit. A wonderful, bizarre habit of trekking over to Neil's place over the weekend because there are fabulous people in from out of town. Fabulous people who do fabulous things. And they often visit people like Neil and Kelly McCullough, because an author is sort of the "quantum mechanic" of the art world.

And then there are people who are drawn to that world because its simple existence is fascinating. Kyle Cassidy is one of those people - his photographs have a documentary materialism coupled with a surreal "screw the fourth wall" kind of inventiveness that I really enjoy. He recently travelled to the boom camps of North Dakota with some researchers to study and document these ephemeral communities. It's a uniformitarian approach to the gold rush. We don't have a gold rush, but we've got this other resource extraction boom and the population growth trends are similar - how might the present "rush" be the key to those in the past?

This was my first chance to actually say hello and, hopefully, talk a little shop. We got a chance to chat, but what Kyle was really interested to see was my department's high speed camera in action. Keep in mind that the camera is called "high speed" because it takes in thousands of images each second, whereas a normal TV video camera captures 30 images each second (well, 29.97 actually, but I really never figured out where that 0.03rd of a frame goes). We refer to the resulting video, when played back at a normal 30 frames per second, as "slow motion". So a video recorded at 1,000 frames per second and played back at 30 frames per second takes 33 times longer than normal (1000/30).

What to do for high speed video in the middle of winter? Easy - throw snowballs. At their heads. So we lined up some volunteers and pelted them with some snow. And Todd (Talking Physics) and I recorded it at 1,000 frames per second. For Science!
SnowMotionScience from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.

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