Mark Wrigley
PiKon ‘Astrocam’

This morning was generously hosted by Sheffield Institute of Arts.

‘The network of chance. There is magic in the serendipity that creates.’

Mark Wrigley AKA PiKon ‘Astrocam’ is a master of open source, keen advocate of disruptive technologies, and creator of 3D printed ‘astrocams’. Mark is also a councillor and outreach champion at the Institute of Physics.

A semi-retired physicist, Mark graduated in physics in the 1970s when coding came on punch cards and pocket calculators were an expensive luxury. At the forefront of digital change, Mark was instrumental in delivering the first digital mobile phone to market. He has also managed products which developed mobile data and internet.

‘Why is it some people are luckier than others? The starting point is curiosity.’

With his physics career spanning UK, China and the USA, Mark was also recently Physicist in Residence at Bank Street Arts exploring the concept of physics-as-culture. To show how physics is as much at home in a gallery or arts setting as in a laboratory with similar creative processes involved in both science and the arts.

Mark started Elektric-Tube in 2010 to democratise science, embrace technological change and provide easy access to technology through making and the arts. Showing that technological disruption is an ongoing process of innovation and something to be embraced.

‘People ask me: How did you think of that? How did you invent that?’

Mark brings together craft and science to make his own magic. He created PiKon, the first 3D printed telescope which uses 3D printed parts and a Raspberry Pi with camera to capture images.

The idea was to show the citizen scientist maker or enthusiast just what can be done with disruptive low cost technologies. The project was an instant hit and found it’s way into the national press as well as specialist magazines and websites. There was a huge response form people who wanted to build their own PiKon.

It’s an example of getting out there, thinking differently, connecting with a community and making things happen.

‘Connections and disruptive technologies keep us lucky, learning, innovating and making. It’s not magic. It’s made.’

As the British author, Roald Dahl once said: ‘Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’

Magic is about adding layers of wonder and surprise in our lives. It awakens our senses and makes us pay attention to the world, encouraging us to appreciate details that are elusive in everyday life.

This morning was generously hosted by Sheffield Institute of Arts.