Welcome, Art Contraptions!

Art Contraptions, the latest collaborator to join the RuckusRoots team, is an LA-based design and fabrication house that specializes in everything from large scale, interactive sculpture to innovative  furniture and web design.

James Peterson, one of the co-founders of Art Contraptions, is an ARTivist in his own right, and his philosophy about art’s function in our world is right up our alley.

“The intention is to create enjoyment with content and thus to inspire people to engage the artwork, ask questions and then as a result, become informed. My formula is the “palatability of information” rather than shoving my opinion down peoples throat,” he says.

Recently, Peterson put these thoughts into practice for an interactive art installation he created at the Los Angeles Convention Center to raise awareness about hypoxia.

Hypoxia, the environmental condition characterized by low oxygen levels that causes ecological “dead zones” in aquatic environments, is increasing in our lakes and oceans at a shocking rate. Besides depleting more overt biodiversity, hypoxia kills off healthy blue-green algae, causes an influx of harmful algae blooms (HABs), contaminates drinking water and results in beach closures. In short, hypoxia isn’t pretty. But, go figure, Peterson’s artwork most certainly is.

Hypoxia utilizes a motion sensitive controller outfitted with infrared LED lights and illuminated with RGB LED lighting. Participants wave their hands over the controller, which initiates fans and LED tape housed inside custom-built pods on the floor. Breeze from the fans causes an overhead cluster of green feather boas to flutter gently, much like an underwater bloom of algae. Peterson hopes his piece will inspire others to become educated about the dangers of Hypoxia, while also providing them with a little bit fun in the process. “[I aim to] create a space to entice education. I believe in art with content but beauty, interactivity, and joy share equal importance,” he says.

RuckusRoots and Art Contraptions are collaborating on a new project, to be unveiled in the fall of 2012. We’d say more, but then we’d have to kill you. Until then, check out Hypoxia in action in the below video, and view more of Peterson’s work on his website, Art Contraptions.

James Peterson’s “Hypoxia” from James Mills on Vimeo.

Thanks to Michael Nelson and James Peterson for the images.

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