This is a model of the famous Honda CB77 Superhawk on which Robert Pirsig rode across the USA with his son Chris back in the 60′. Their journey has been captured in the global bestselling book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“. Robert Pirsig’s philosophy of the Metaphysics of Quality is the basis of most of my LEGO models and this motorcycle is a tribute to Pirsig’s mind changing ideas. You can see more photos of the model at my flickr set.
You can make this model become an official LEGO set by voting for it over at LEGO Cuusoo. Here is a poster of the model:
Creating mosaics made of LEGO is a popular activity and you may enjoy looking at some examples at Mosaic Blocks or at the Flickr LEGO Mosaic Group. I started out with absolutely no LEGO mosaic experience and I wrote this tutorial along my way towards my first mosaic. I hope that the lessons I learned may also help you creating your own mosaics.
1. Selection of a source image and basic dimensions of the mosaic
Selecting your source image does seem like an easy task, but you need to be aware of some of the constraints to make a good choice. First, you should have as little detail in the photograph as necessary. You will be heavily limited on the resolution of the mosaic. The smallest unit of a LEGO mosaic is a single 1×1 plate that measures 8×8 mm (actually 7.8mm plus 0.1mm of play between bricks). This results in a resolution of 3.175 dots per inch (DPI) or 1.25 dots per centimeter. Maybe it would be wiser to refer to this as 3.175 bricks per inch (BPI) or 1.25 bricks per cm. A large base plate is 48×48 studs, resulting in 38.2 x 38.2 cm dimension (0.8*48-0.2). Photographs often use the proportion of 2:3 and hence a 2×3 base plate design would result in 96×144 bricks or 76.4 x 114.6 cm.
For my mosaic I selected a portrait of Robert M. Pirsig, one of my personal heroes. The source image is a grey scale image, but creating colorful mosaics follows the same process as a grey scale mosaic.
I started a crowd funding project to create the Unofficial LEGO Minifigure Quartet card game. Please support this project by pledging as much or as little as you desire. The goal is to create a quartet card game that features LEGO Minifigures. Quartet is a card similar to Super Trumps or Go Fish. I am using the IndieGoGo crowd funding platform for this purpose. Please help!
Panoramic photography is one of my passions. With the arrival of panorama apps for the iPhone the game has changed, yet again. You can easily create panoramas right on your iPhone. Not only can you stitch them on the phone, but you can even continuously shoot spherical panos with PhotoSynth (free) or 360 Panorama (commercial). You can simply pan and tilt the camera while holding the camera in your hand, but the more elegant and more precise method is to use a motorized camera head. I build one from LEGO and used the Mindstorms NXT (no need for the EV3 for this).
The same principles that classical panoramic photography also applies to this new generation of pano apps. Most importantly, the pivot point of the camera head needs to be in the “no parallax” point of the camera. Since the lens of the iPhone is very small, it is sufficient to just place just into the pivot point. In figure 1 you see how the rotation axis of the motorized camera head roughly meet at the center of the camera.
Programming is very straight forward:
Here is a video of the motorized camera head in action:
And here is the resulting spherical panorama:
The study we performed on the emotional expressivity of LEGO Minifigures is currently receiving an enormous attention in the media. Much more than the LEGO Minfigure Catalogs that I am publishing as books. I am being bombarded with requests for interviews and statements. The Norwegian news paper “Morgenbladet” even asked me to confirm that this is not an action from the infamous “Yes Men” or any other artist group alike. I share their disbelief how such a little study could cause such a ripple in the global media landscape. I do not think that it deserves that much attention. Why then has it sparked such an intense consideration?
The study showed, amongst other things, that the number of unique LEGO Minifigure faces has increased dramatically over the years and that the proportion of happy faces is declining. Anger is the second most frequent expression. As my wife put it to me yesterday: “So what, there are some angry faces!”. I agree, there is nothing wrong with having a variety of faces, including faces that are angry, sad, fearful and surprised. They reflect our normal repertoire of facial expressions.
When reflecting on the type of questions reporters asked me I gathered that there is another phenomena that, mixed with the results of our study, does concern many people. Have the LEGO toys become more aggressive and violent in general? This is not a question of the faces on the Minfigures, but on the sets and the phantasy worlds in which they are embedded. Have a look at set 44001 Pyrox (see Figure 1). This certainly looks like a violent demon, if not the devil himself. The question comes up again and again as to whether such toys have a negative effect on our children.
Figure 1: Set 44001 Pyrox
We do already have a big debate about violent computer games and to my knowledge there is no scientific consent as to what effect it may or may not have on children and young adults. The Mega Blocks company even sells LEGO compatible sets that are based on the violent computer game called Halo.
Surely there is a relationship between the artifacts and ourselves. We shape the tools and toys and they shape us. But it is a complex relationship in which causalities are difficult to establish. Our little LEGO study was never intended to give an answer to this question and it certainly cannot even give a hint. We have only been able to scientifically establish that there are now proportionally less happy faces and more angry faces. But this is the main question that has been asked by the reporters. I feel sorry to have to disappoint the reporters and readers. I am not able to give you any scientific proof that LEGO is good or bad for your children.
But I can give you my non-scientific, personal view. I believe the LEGO company has some great toys that help kids develop and the more generic LEGO bricks you buy, the more freedom you give the kids to develop their own imaginary worlds. It is a misconception that the basic LEGO bricks have gone. You can buy a bucket of basic bricks in every toy store right now. I recommend that you, no matter the age, sit down today on the floor and do play with some LEGO. But do not step on them barefoot!
Update: The media has become overwhelming. Have a look at the press section to get an impression of the coverage.
The response of the media to our LEGO Minifigure study has been overwhelming. Not only did the New Zealand Herald report, but also Die Welt, Tagesschau. There has also been an interview on the Australian’s ABC radio:
And I also gave a TV interview today for TV3 News. You can watch it below: