Ghost Peloton

For reasons which I suspect have more to do with wrangling Provinces than anything else, the Tour de France traditionally starts in another country entirely. This year: Yorkshire (which is a country, yes. Obviously).

To kick off the celebrations marking the event, this weekend saw a mad spectacle of an arts performance, Ghost Peloton. 36 illuminated riders choreographed to a backdrop of music and a film featuring more cyclists and dancers. It was glorious. You missed it, sorry.

The spectacle of illuminated formation cycling was gorgeous, but also nigh-impossible to photograph. I opted to stand with my family rather than in the photographer’s compound, so all of my photos here are handheld. Solidly-locked shots aren’t any more comprehensible, I can assure you.

A cyclist in front of the video wall, Ghost Peloton, Leeds 2014.
A cyclist in front of the video wall, Ghost Peloton, Leeds 2014.

Relevance to ScienceDemo? Cycloids, obviously!

Wheel-mounted lights trace out cycloids. Ghost Peloton, Leeds 2014.
Wheel-mounted lights trace out cycloids. Ghost Peloton, Leeds 2014.

It’s also worth reading up on the technology involved in the performance, and mulling over the possibilities of combining this sort of performance with something like AdaFruit’s SpokePOV. Perhaps in combination with crazy trials riders:

As with Japanese avalanche modelling (paper, PDF) and Sony’s Balls commercial, I fully expect to see something like this in a high-profile advert in about six months’ time.

Finally: I often grumble about ambition in science communication. While Ghost Peloton clearly involved a chunk of funding, it’s also the case that dozens – hundreds, probably – of volunteers shared the vision and gave their time to make it happen. Their efforts paid off in a mesmerising performance.

I’d like to see us dream bigger in scicomms.

A rider in Ghost Peloton, Leeds 2014.
A rider in Ghost Peloton, Leeds 2014.

The rest of my photographs are in this gallery on Flickr.

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