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Water Light Graffiti, Spock vs. Spock and more in this week’s Staff Picks

Staff Picks 5-10

drew-prindleDrew Prindle: Water Light Graffiti

No matter how many concerts I go to, and no matter how many dazzling light shows I see, I never seem to grow tired of the crazy things people do with LED’s. Now that they’ve become relatively cheap and easy to get ahold of, nerdy creative types all over the world are incorporating them into mesmerizing works of art. This week, I came across one of the coolest LED projects I’ve ever seen, designed by a French artist named Antonin Fourneau.

His installation, which he calls “Water Light Graffiti,” consists of thousands of LEDs that illuminate when they come into contact with water. And it’s completely safe to touch – you can use a paintbrush, a spray bottle, a bucket, or even just damp fingers to draw on the wall, without having to worry about being electrocuted. I scoured the Web for a few minutes trying to find out how it works, but after a few minutes I realized I don’t really care – I just know I really want to go to town on it with a SuperSoaker.

Fourneau is currently taking his installation on tour, so if you happen to be reading this in New York you might have a chance to check it out in person next week. Water Light Graffiti will go live in New York City on May 13th, at the Grohe Live! Center at 160 5th Ave. RSVP required.

jennifer-bergenJen Bergen: ‘The IT Crowd’ returns for one final episode

Sometimes TV shows suffer a premature death, leaving fans everywhere to go through the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Take Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, and Party Down, for example; all three of these shows hooked its viewers, made us fall in love with the characters, and then stole all our joy away by telling us the show wouldn’t be back next season! Oh god, why? But another show also got us hooked and broke our hearts after four seasons, this time coming from across the pond: The IT Crowd.

As luck would have it, The IT Crowd is taking a cue from Arrested Development and coming back… for one final, 40-minute episode. If you’re not familiar with the genius show, aired on Channel 4 in the UK, The IT Crowd follows two extremely socially awkward IT guys, played by Chris O’Dowd (the cop in Bridesmaids, also appearing on HBO’s Girls) and Richard Ayoade (some guy in The Watch, and also Saboo in The Mighty Boosh) and their nerdy misadventures. Of course, there’s also their inept boss played by Katherine Parkinson (Pirate Radio), and the wildly inappropriate boss played by Matt Berry (just look him up; he’s hilarious).

The show ended in 2010 rather abruptly, so the upcoming episode will hopefully wrap things up … or make us long for more IT Crowd shenanigans. Good news for those who need to brush up on their IT Crowd: you can stream all four seasons on Netflix. And the next time someone asks if you’ve tried turning it off and on again, you’ll get the reference.

Les ShuLes Shu: This is what it took to capture Space Shuttle launches in the 80s

When it comes to shooting photos and videos, today’s cameras, camcorders, and smartphones have not only made the process fully automatic, the quality is also spectacular. Because these gadgets take care of the legwork, we have forgotten that not long ago, capturing good photography and videography was actually an involved process.

NASA knows how to launch rockets and send people into space, but they also know how to take some of the world’s most amazing videos and photos. Of course, much of the materials were recorded before digital came to the forefront. Popular Photography found an old video from the 1980s on YouTube (via Reddit) that showed the complex, large equipment and intricate procedures needed to capture the space shuttle launches at Kennedy Space Center during that decade. The promo video was made by TGS Technology, a firm that handled photographic contract work for NASA and the U.S. Air Force, using $100 million of equipment to document the launches. With the Space Shuttle program gone, at least we have these old videos to look back to.

Andrew CoutsAndrew Couts: No laughing matter

Earlier this week, I wrote an op-ed arguing that it is a mistake to divide “the Internet” and “real life” into two separate categories. What you do on the Web is part of your real life. And, more importantly, the things we encounter online are made by real people, with real feelings.

This point became abundantly clear with the return of Allie Brosh, creator of popular Web comic Hyperbole and a Half, who disappeared from the Internet for nearly two years – until this week. In a post entitled “Depression part 2,” Brosh takes her readers on a tragic and, sometimes, hilarious journey through her battle with depression. While that might sound like a real bummer, it’s not. In fact, Brosh’s post is perhaps one of the most profound creations I’ve ever encountered on the Web. Whether you’ve suffered from depression yourself, or know someone who has, Brosh’s latest comic is well worth the read, if for no other reason than to remind yourself just how real this all is.

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caleb-denisonCaleb Denison: Spock vs. Spock

I’m the weirdest kind of Star Trek fan. I’m not the sort that gets dressed up for Trek conventions or greets his friends with the Vulcan salute and a quick “Live long and prosper.” No, I’m more like the ninja of Star Trek fans. I sneak in a little Star Trek: The Next Generation on Amazon Instant when nobody else is around, I can recite virtually the entire script of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, I still get a little pissed sometimes when I think about how they killed off Data, and I can list off – without looking at IMDB – pretty much every TV series and movie Brent Spiner has ever been in (sometimes I still miss Night Court). But you would never know it by looking at me or talking to me unless you said something ridiculous like, “Jonathan Frakes is totally underrated as an actor” – then it is on, my friend.

You can imagine, then, how my inner Star Trek geek totally flipped out when I came across this new Audi commercial. I already loved Audi, but now I’m going to go buy one on May 17 as a sort of dual celebration of Audi’s awesomeness and the release of Into Darkness. I wonder how many other Trek dorks will roll up to the Cineplex in a shiny new Audi? My guess: A lot.

It’s a battle of the Spocks. Do I really need to say any more? Just click below and watch

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