Artist and educator Anna Blumenkranz teaches a module at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich to media and art pedagogy students. This involves a variety of open source hardware and software technologies as platforms for creative expression and critical thought. Anna invited myself and artist Emilie Giles to facilitate a two day workshop with her on critical computing.
Over the two days the students were introduced to the physical computing platform Arduino and given the tools and guidance to create a working prototype for presentation at the end of day two.
As an introduction Emilie and I explained our working practices as part of Open Systems Association; a group of artists and practioners who collaborate on projects that explore the various technologies and systems that surround us. Anna, Emilie and I each produced a prototype project prior to the workshop in order to facilitate discussion about our practice and approach to critical computation.
At the end of the final day the students had created three diverse prototypes involving e-textiles, conductive objects and homemade skin conductance sensors.
“Immerse yourself in the live transmissions of three young people as they walk through their neighbourhoods in Manchester, telling you about their lives and asking you about yours.”
“In My Neck Of The Woods you participate online. Three young people walk through their neighbourhoods in Manchester, filming themselves as they go. You choose which of the three you would like to have a conversation with, whose questions you would like to answer, who you feel comfortable just being with. Select them and you are dropped into their live video stream. You travel with them as they tell you about their lives and as they ask you about yours.”
The development of the platform for My Neck Of The Woods involved an initial challenge to create an intimate experience between a single broadcasting performer and multiple online viewers/participants. The difficulty in creating an engaged and participatory experience using live broadcast transmissions is something that Blast Theory have tackled in previous work. Working with artists and developers at their studio we devised and built the platform/architecture that gave viewers the opportunity to have a one to one exchange with a young person about their neighbourhood and other topics of importance to them. Outside of the technical platform the projects success was facilitated by a great team of artists and associates from Blast Theory and not least the talented young people in Manchester who were brave enough to engage strangers about personal and intimate topics.
Pictures courtesy of Blast Theory.View Project »
In 2013 the BBC delivered the first ‘truly digital’ Glastonbury. Picture Ltd have been responsible for the previous iterations of the BBC’s event platfrom (EAVIS), which manages live events across the BBC. This year as part of a small team of developers at Picture we built the first responsive front end to EAVIS for use across small screen devices during Glastonbury 2013.
The BBC Academy is the BBC’s centre for training. It houses the Colleges of Journalism, Production, Technology and Leadership. It is the central source for articles, videos and podcasts aimed at giving people, external and internal, an insight into how the different parts of the BBC goes about producing its output.
Camp Loco was a series of creative workshops for 4 to 7 year olds in the Hackney, which involved introducing children to unusual, creative and material practices. Each workshop was planned and facilitated by a creative practitioner with a specialism in a particular area.
One day of the series consisted of 3 science related workshops, one of which was an Analogue Computing workshop that I devised. The intended goal of the workshop was to excite the children about the inner workings of computers (software and hardware) and to introduce concepts of computing as problem solving…whilst also having fun, pretending to be robots and not using anything recognisable as a computer.
Camp Loco was organised by New Future Collective who are also responsible for the fantastic Disco Loco events.
This installation was a one of the major exhibitions at Transmediale 2013.
Evil Media Distributions Centre was an artistic response by YoHa to the recently published book Evil Media (2012) by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey, which focusses on the pervasive presence of so-called “gray media” – an expanded notion of media or forms of mediation that provides a deeper, more complex understanding of their effects on how we act, perceive and think in our daily lives.
The artists have invited 66 contributors to choose and write a short text about a gray media object (ranging from tampons to software compilers), and these texts and objects are then presented in the setting of a curiosity cabinet designed as a distribution centre.
My contribution to this project was a short text on Compilers and Interpreters.View Project »
Everything but the Kitchen (EBTK) was a group exhibition by members of Open System Association articulated as a radical kitchen space. Seven units house critical experiments where members of the public can plug into bodies and their processes, approaching critical thinking and technological tinkering from the perspective of physical engagement. How does our understanding of feedback systems shift once our nipples are connected through suction to another body? How does time materialise in a physical database of chopped, organised and washed vegetables? How can we re-politicise domestic media by grinding corn kernels?
Myself and artist, Alexandra Jönsson, devised the project Suction Mechanisms. This was a series of performative experiments unfolding over the duration of 11 hour exhibition exploring how milk pumping labour and suction mechanisms tie emotional and material bodies together by manipulation of air flow. How can new relationships emerge through the touch and pressure of a nipple tied to the flow and containment of liquid in the process of the manual labour of pumping?View Project »
In collaboration with the Open Systems Association, YoHa, Southend Education Trust and Digital Exploration Centre I was involved in producing and facilitating a Hack Day devised to introduce Southend teachers to the open source hardware platform, Arduino, as a method of engaging children in programming and computing.
This ongoing project is a response to news in January 2011 that the Education Secretary was axing the existing ICT curriculum and giving schools the opportunity (albeit with no further funding or training) to devise their own curricula.
The project aims to help schools develop new ways of learning and teaching technology, that will engage young people in the creative applications of computing and programming. Artists and technologists within OSA devised, planned, built and thoroughly documented three open-source Arduino projects for the first hack day held at Digital Exploration Centre in Southend-on-Sea. As part of the workshop/hack day itself teachers and students were presented the projects and offered the chance to interrogate the technology as well as the methods of conception and production. This was with a mind to employing strategies into classroom activities that are outside of the realm of conventional computing and IT teaching methods.
Images courtesy of Cliff Hammett, Alexandra Joensson, Renee Carmichael and Emilie Giles.
During the workshop participants were guided through the process of creating a piece of software in the Python programming language, which could be constructed to have its own personality. This was achieved using some primitive natural language processing directly inspired and appropriated from the ELIZA library.
Wabbitware is a critical software experiment. Rather than using a copyleft licenses such as the GPL General Public License to ensure the genealogy (access to source code) of software Wabbitware and any further Wabbits derived from the first compiled iteration carry with and distribute their source code whenever they are executed.
Wabbitware explores the notions of code and its associated practices in domains of the social, legal and technical. Within each software piece is an encoded and embedded subjectivity that raises questions about software’s construction and authorship. Whilst software continues to play a more pervasive role in day to day life it is one aim of this project to enable and encourage a curiosity about these implicitly objective technical assemblages.
It embodies in it’s code the principles of Free Software. “Think free as in free speech, not free beer.” Richard Stallman [link]View Project »
A YouTube channel to accompany a series of adverts broadcast during the X-Factor final ad breaks. At the end of each advert a Twitter hashtag was assigned to each of two potential forks in the narrative. The YouTube channel would visualise the live count of each hashtag and also show the story so far.
After the series of ads were complete the YouTube channel became a site to explore each permutation of the narrative.
This project won the Mobile Site of the Day award from The FWA.View Project »
A product catalogue and interactive narrative during which the user drags and releases frozen characters who crash through walls into a next scene. Extremely high frame rate video was shot for the purposes of enabling this unusually ‘drag and release’ navigation. A Facebook widget was also built for each of the scenes so it could be embedded into the Facebook Timeline.
Read a detailed case study by Stinkdigital.
Flash was used to handle and manipulate high resolution video and create the navigation device. I was part of the development team who created this experience using ActionScript 3 and Robotlegs.
This project won the Site of the Day/Month award from The FWA.View Project »
A Facebook application that analyses your personal information to deliver one of 9,000 possible bespoke animations.
The application scrapes data from numerous different areas of the Facebook Graph API and scores the user against certain criteria to determine a sequence of animations to play (usually including some relevant images or statistics about the user).
Read a detailed case study by Stinkdigital.
The PHP Zend Framework and Facebook’s Graph API were used to perform the user data analysis. Flash and Robotlegs micro-architecture framework were used on the front-end to sequence the animations and add dynamic user specific content.
This project won the Site of the Day award from The FWA.
A sing-a-long / karaoke Facebook application commissioned by Yeo Valley to accompany their TV advert of a spoof boy band ‘The Churned‘, which was aired during the X-Factor final ad break. The user could sing into their microphone and the application would detect pitch and match this against the original score for the song.
The Flash application accesses the users microphone data and uses a C++ library for pitch detection that was cross-compiled to ActionScript 3 using the experimental Adobe Alchemy project. The application was built using the Robotlegs micro-architecture.