Project: Smoke Ring

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Created by: Bradford Benn

Released November 4, 2023/span>


Laurie Anderson - Smoke Rings

Bradford first heard the song "Smoke Rings" in the late 1980's. It was released as part of the soundtrack for "Home of the Brave". It has stuck with him since then. It has been a thirty year plus of enjoying the piece. The reason is the absurdity or non-sequitur nature of the lyrics. Miss Anderson asks the question of which is more macho to a participant of a call-in show., The question, "La primera pregunta es: Que es mas macho, pineapple o knife?". That is the whole question, no additional context. The caller simply needs to answer.

I have done the same thing to people, most often with my partner, at least once a week. It continues to entertain us.


When I was asked to participate in the Vendart project at Maker Faire: Orlando 2023, I decided to create a visual version of this idea. Simply turn the arrow to an item. There were some challenges in getting things to fit in the package, if your art did not survive the vending process, please let me know and I will be happy to replace.


You can find the song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n1YjN6z-7Q 




Creating the art for the frame

Representing the options to be able to choose from took a little thought. I want to keep the piece active for people for as long as possible. That is why there are three. The more options to pick from, I believe the more often it will be changed.


In creating the art, I knew that I wanted the art to be created randomly. I knew that subconscious bias would kick into the process without thinking through the process. I came up with a list of items to be considered, I then used the items listed as prompts to drive artificial intelligence to create a drawing. The software I was using would generate four options for each item. I divided the icons into three groups, making sure that all the icons for an item were in the same group. There were approximately 50 items in each group. Some items had the number of icons for an item ranged from 1 to 8, so it was not a perfect division.


Once the icons were grouped, I needed a way to randomize the items. There are approximately 125,000 different combinations of the items with each item being unique. I assigned a number to each icon. I then used a random number generator to select the icons to be placed together. It is possible the same set of three icons could be generated multiple times. I purposely let that occur or else the process would not be random.


Once there were sixty randomly generated sets of numbers, I used a merge process to have the illustration software to place the three selected icons into a picture. I then manually went through and adjusted positions of the items. The printed pictures were then placed into the 3d printed frames. The frame parts were selected at "random" by simply pulling out a front, back, and arrow out of a box. There were multiple colors used in the printing process. How they came together was solely set by which one was pulled from the box.


The 3D models and artwork will be shared in the future via open source.