The Seizure Dome. — Photo courtesy of Image Node.
The Bushwick Print Lab is a hectic storm of creativity where LED lights dance about, and skeletal metal sculptures and lightbulbs containing glowing fetuses hang from the ceiling amidst a significant printing operation, stacks of paint cans, and a well used home bar. Located at 1717 Troutman St., the lab is home to several artists, projects, and workshops. The artists here are a sort of Brooklyn outpost of Burning Man, the annual event held in the desert that combines technology, music, art, and fire.
The print lab offers rental access to a full printing studio and also strives to act as a collaborative hub for people to meet and exchange ideas. It’s run by Ray Cross, a graphic designer who used to be part of the Ad Hoc gallery on Bogart St. He thought the lab would appeal to the the particularities of the printing community; it fits their outlook well and printing can get quite expensive when tackled solo.
"Printers tend to have a collaborative nature," says Cross, "whereas painters can be a bit paranoid, painting away by themselves in their studios." Activists have also been keen on the lab, such as Transportation Alternatives and Just Seeds.
Cross is also one of the graphic designers of a collective named Image Node. The group, which consists of about 20 members around the country and globe, come together at Burning Man annually. Another Node member, Todd Polenberg, occupies one side of the lab filled with scattered electronic parts, blinking lights, and other dusty, techy stuff.
One of his projects is a series of lightbulbs that hang from the ceiling at about eye level and are filled with a reddish liquid. Floating inside are glowing fetuses. (They’re fake of course, don’t get all crazy now.) Ultimately, he’d like to hang about 100 of them in a gallery. Polenberg, who used to be part of Graffiti Research Lab, also has a musical endeavor in which he explores a genre called hobotech, "a mixture of old-timey music and new school beats."
But out of this impressive swirl of ideas and energy, Image Node’s very aptly titled Seizure Dome is the undeniable center of attention. Although the final dome was too large even to show on their impressive rooftop deck, they had a working demo inside. In front of a wall of disks covered in glowing lights, an orb rests in its cradle while a recorded voice whispers, like a devil on your shoulder, for you to pick it up. Once in your hands, you can manipulate the light wall by twisting the orb — controlled by a hacked Wii remote — and clicking a button on it. A soundtrack created by Polenberg also changes with your motions. (For techies: the orb setup uses custom software to control the LED lights, and a MIDI interface controls the music through a program called Abelton Live.)
Hypnotic as it was on this little wall, the actual Dome — also known by its more grant-friendly alias, AVEX — spreads the lights all about its huge, reflective-covered interior as guests lounge around on the rug-covered floor and absorb the experience.
"We don’t advocate taking psychedelics when experiencing the dome," Polenberg ventures, "but we hear it’s great that way."