Spectre

It’s always nice to help out and to get a mention :)

Spectre


indaf

As part of Roy Ascott’s LPDT 2 for indaf, I provided the AI interface that people could SMS and then their original message and the AI’s response were posted into Second Life. You can read more about the piece here – http://www.indaf.org/e_sub02_02.asp


Cory Arcangel

Just got back from visiting an exhibition of Cory Arcangel’s work at Spacex. I really liked I Shot Andy Warhol which he made by modding Hogan’s Alley on a Nintendo cartridge. In the game, the player has to shoot Andy Warhol and avoid hitting the Pope, Flavor Flav and Colonel Sanders. Other pieces on show were:

Colors where he plays the film Colors one line of pixels at a time

a couple thousand short films about Glenn Gould which uses YouTube clips of amateur musicians to recreate Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Sans Simon which is a video where he edited out Paul Simon by covering up the singer with his hand

Two Keystone Projectors which is 2 projectors who have had their displays distorted by altering their keystoning and displaying the blue screen normally seen when a VCR is empty

The Bruce Springsteen Glockenspiel Addendum which is a remix of Springsteen’s Born to Run album with added glockenspiel. The whole remix was given away free at the exhibition.


Sonic Arts Network Expo

It was the Sonic Arts Network Expo this weekend. A free festival of experimental music and sound art from around the UK plus some exhibits by local artists. I was the muscle Friday lugging speakers around Tinside in the morning and then back onto the truck in the evening. Sunday was the Sonic Picnic which was to be held at Devil’s Point but due to the weather it all got moved to the New Cooperage Building in the Royal William Yard. Considering the last minute move, I thought it all went really smoothly. I was glad it got moved coz it then gave me a chance to have a good look around.

My favourite was the School of Fish Ebait which was put together by some PCAD students and Lee Nutbeam. Essentially it was a tank of water with 4 flat fish projected into it. Beside it was a pressure pad which when stood on sent vibrations into the tank that “fed” the fish. What was also nice about it was the at the other end was another vibration device that was networked to a real feeding device in a tank at the National Aquarium so that when the real fish were fed, so were the projected ones. Pretty damn cool. I also liked the Sonic Marble Run by Jon Pigott which was a big marble run that was connected to various speakers round the room. As the marble went down the rails, the sound made was amplified thru the speakers.

Of the local artists work, I liked Darwin’s Walk which used soundbeam technology and played the sounds of evolution as you got closer. And of course I liked the Digital Hot Dogs installation which Jamie worked on with Plymouth Music Zone. A hot dog stand that mixed sampled sounds recorded earlier of Janners. The uni was there as well in the shape of Chris Speed with the Silence of the Lands project. If you visit the website, you can even listen to a recording of the Digital Hot Dog stand.

This was a cracking event and it was nice to see something like it in Plymouth.

My Flickr photos of the Expo


Hackable Curator

I went to the latest Apollo tonight which was a guided tour of an exhibition on at the Plymouth Arts Centre called Slow. I’ve been meaning to pop along to it but never seemed to find the time so this was perfect. Rachel and Hannah of Low Profile have got a couple of showreels running. The Efford Moves project that Steve and I worked on is also on show but the piece that I really wanted to see was The Hackable Curator built by some of our masters students. Essentially it pulls images from Flickr with the tags “Plymouth” or “Slow” and displays 9 of them. There’s a robotic arm which then randomly drops onto one of the images as a selection process. Or at least that’s the impression you get, Martha explained how it actually works to us but my lips are sealed. The exhibition runs until 19th March so there’s enough time to pop along and see it.


Earth from the air

There’s a really fascinating exhibition on in the town centre at the moment. Called Earth from the Air, it’s essentially photos of different landscapes taken from the air. There’s the sort of stuff that you’d expect like Stonehenge and the Corcovado overlooking Rio de Janeiro but there’s also things like the tank graveyard in Kuwait, a huge sand dune that’s now blocking a road in Egypt and a gigantic mass of plastic bottle crates in Germany. The photos are so crips and clear that you can see every detail.

It’s on until 24th October so you’ve got a bit of time to get along. If you miss it or don’t fancy a trip to sunny Plymouth, the website has some of the photos.


Cybersonica

Chelle, Jamie and I went up to Cybersonica a couple of days ago. Due to other commitments we couldn’t go to the evening events or the stuff held over the weekend but the work we saw was still worth the train ticket. It was held in the basement of Phonica Records just behind Oxford Street and in the stairwell leading down was a piece called Untitled Sound Objects by Pe Lang and Zimoun which are loads of little “pistons” that start to work when someone enters the stairwell. We had more of a look on the way out and I tried to see what kicked it off but couldn’t work it out.

First up was Mind Your Head by Philip Marston. This was a low hanging fluorescent tube which you moved around whilst wearing a pair of headphones connected to an EMF pickup. As you moved around the light so the frequency of the sound in the headphones changed. Very spooky, I didn’t realise how much EMF came out of a flourescent tube.

Next was Looparena by Jens Wunderling. This consisted of objects on a touch screen which in turn were agents for 8 MIDI instruments. As you dragged the objects around the screen so the sounds changed. This was a really great piece to play about with although it took me a while to get the hang of it. And it was written in Processing – wonder if Jens will release the code. Following Looparena was Tape by Someth;ng. This was a big transparent plastic panel with a tape loop inside. You recorded a sound and then were able to distort the playback by using a couple of levers that allowed you to control the speed of the tape even to the point of doing some scratching. It’s been years since I’ve seen real tape so it was nice to have a bit of a play.

After Tape was Schizoporotica by Troika which out of everything was my favourite. This essentially was a black box which allowed you to pick some pre-recorded tunes like Van Halen’s Jump for example. You then ripped chunks out of a card and fed them into the box which “read” the tears and altered the music as it played. One of the guys there opened the back up to let us have a look inside and I would love to tell you what we saw but it’s a secret, I’m sure you understand. This took me back to punch cards (yes I am that old!) used to program old school computers and I could have quite happily played on it for the rest of the day.

Next up was iScratch by Shosei Oishi. This was an iPod that allowed you to scratch music being played using the thumbwheel. Unfortunately this had to be reset a couple of times whilst we were there but I think I still managed to get a feel for it.

Then it was EtchASound by Seulki Kang and Kenichi Okada. Inspired by the Etch-A-Sketch toy this consisted of 4 microphones and by using your voice, you drew 2-d shapes which after a while the computer then changed into 3-d. I liked this as well coz I had a Etch-A-Sketch when I was younger and I was probably just as bad at controlling it as I was the EtchASound.

Finally downstairs was Shadow Monsters by Philip Worthington which I think is fair to say was probably Jamie’s favourite. Using the idea of making animals with the shadows made by your hands, this then added hair and teeth and stuff to turn them into monsters. Very clever and I think my little girl would have loved to play with it.

Unfortunately the room next door was being used for a fashion show which meant we missed a couple of exhibits so it was back upstairs to look at Freq2 by squidsoup and Death Before Disko. Freq2 captures the outline of the persons body and uses that to playback sound. As it was in the window facing the street, everyone walking past were “captured” so it was difficult to have a play with it and the glare on the screen made taking photos a bit difficult but hopefully you’ll get the main idea.

So, after a pint of Pride and a burger, we made our way to the Science Museum to visit the 20 Years of Pixar exhibition. After paying student rates to get in we made our way upstairs. Got told that we weren’t allowed to take our bags in, take photos, shoot video and all mobiles had to be put on silent. Fortunately breathing was at our descretion. Down to the basement to check our bags into the cloakroom and then back up to the 1st floor and we were allowed in. The room is choc-a-block with sketches and storyboards and models showing the development of the characters – I didn’t realise that they made models of each of the characters to see how they would look in real space. This was all very impressive but 2 things made specifically for the exhibit blew me away. First was a modern-day Zoetrope. A Zoetrope is a drum with equi-distant slits cut into the sides. Inside the drum are drawings with each one being slightly different than the previous. As you spin the drum and look thru’ the slits the drawings become animated. The Pixar version was a large disc with various models of characters from Toy Story on it in slightly differing poses. The disc was then spun really fast, so fast in fact that the models became a blur. Then a strobe flashing at 18 times a second is turned on and hey-presto the characters became animated. I must have watched it 3 times from start to finish and I really wish I could have had some photos or a video to show you but it was just brilliant.

The other piece I really liked was a film called Artscape. This was an 11 minute cartoon but it was made up of 4 different films running on a different computer each, synched up and projected onto a screen. What this did was to give the impression of depth so you felt that you could just put you hand behind a rock or tree that was on the screen. On the way out you could have a quick peak at the equipment used which was some pretty powerful, high end bits of kit but I’m sure it ought to be possible to do something similar with a couple of laptops – I think I smell a project forming.

After that it was back to Oxford Circus for a Frapachino and a lemon and poppy seed muffin before hitting the Apple Shop to update our wishlists. it was surprisingly quiet for 5 o’clock but then again I guess it’s not exchange student season yet is it. We had a play on some Intel powered Macs, stared in awe at the 30″ monitors and then went upstairs to have a look around. There’s a small theatre up there where they give lectures on all things Mac. The one being given at the time we were there was how to use iTunes. Now I’m probably being a triffle bit hard here but if you need to sit thru an hour long lecture on how to use iTunes, can I suggest that you carefully pack your Mac back into its box and send it back coz you’re obviously too stupid to own a computer.

And with that we made our way back to Paddington to catch our trains home. Cybersonica is on until 26th May so there’s about a week left and it really is well worth the trip. Next year I’d like to try and visit it over the weekend to take in the conference as well. The Pixar exhibit is on until 10th June.

1st clip of Freq2
2nd clip of Freq2
Clip of Untitled Sound Objects
Link to my Flickr photos


Lovebytes

So, me and Chelle went up to Sheffield yesterday to visit Lovebytes. It was an early start for me as the train left at 06:20 with Chelle joining it at Bristol but from the stuff we saw it was definitely worth it. Unfortunately most of the events didn’t start until the day after we were there but we still saw some good stuff.

First up was q3apd which is a Quake 3 machinima thing that uses elements of the game to produce a realtime soundscape. I tried to capture the sound as well as take loads of photos but I’m not sure if you’ll get much of an idea of what it’s about from listening to it. Next up was JuneBum Park’s videos. First was Advertisement which shows giant hands manipulating buildings to produce and advert. Next was Parking which again uses giant hands but this time to move cars around. Finally was Puzzle which shows an overhead shot of people sat at tables but they move around like a giant kid’s puzzle.

After them was Dwelling by Hiraki Sawa. I really loved this. It’s a black and white video of planes flying around a flat. In and out of rooms, around the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. I’m not sure if this was the inspiration behind it but when I was young and used to make model planes, I used to hang them from the ceiling of my bedroom and I immediately thought of that when I saw it.

The Showroom, where all of the above is shown, has a bar so after taking loads of photos, we paid it a visit and decided to have hot white chocolate. They have got to be the BEST in Sheffield, if not the world. Marsh mellows and shavings of white and milk chocolate on top of hot white chocolate – fan-bloody-tastic!!

After drinking them, we went along to Workstation so see Time Slice. Essentially it’s the same video sliced up into columns and rows. Quite interesting and the 2nd one with people in was the most effective in my opinion. It was stange viewing this coz it was in the reception of Workstation and it felt like we were intruding. I half expected the receptionist to come over and tell us off for taking pictures but she didn’t seem bothered.

So it was then onto the Millennium Galleries to see Bit-Scapes. This is a video installation that runs over 3 screens with the same footage on each. The first is untouched, the second is then slightly manipulated with the 3rd being completed manipulated digitally. You don’t really get the effect unless you stand back and can see all 3 at the same time but unfortunately with the screens being in front of a large window, you do get a lot of reflections which spoils it a bit.

And that was basically it. Apart lunch and a wlak walk around the shops, all that was left was a visit to Access Space. We’ve been to a talk by James Wallbank at Fave last August so as we were in Sheffield it felt wrong not to pop along and have a look. It was quite an impressive setup with everything running on donated kit and using Open source software. Lovebytes was shwoing showing something there but it was later in the week so we were gonna miss it. I think they thought we were slightly mad having come up all the way from the South West just for a day so at least we brightened up their day.

All that was left was another hot white chocolate and then catch the train home. We collected loads of leaflets and handouts and our heads were buzzing with ideas following on from the stuff we saw. Lovebytes is definitely worth a visit and I think next year we’ll go again but later in the week so that we can see more stuff.

Listen to q3apd
Clip of Advertisement
Clip of Parking
Clip of Puzzle
1st clip of Dwelling
2nd clip of Dwelling
3rd clip of Dwelling
Link to my Flickr photos


After Hiroshima

Went to the opening of After Hiroshima last night at the Plymouth Arts Centre. I’m afraind afraid to say that apart from it being the first use of a nuclear weapon, I only really knew anything about it from OMD’s Enola Gay so it was a bit of an education. Obviously the destruction and number of deaths were horrific but what really stuck with me was the way it was kept secret for years afterwards. Survivors weren’t allowed to talk about it and all film was censored. In this day and age where cameras in bombs are shown on the 10 o’clock news as they fall onto their target, it’s hard to believe that something like that was kept in such secrecy for so long.