Jam & Hack

I went and took part in the Jam & Hack recently held as part of Digital Shoreditch. The event was held at Google Campus in London and was sponsored by Cadbury. Cadbury is one of the official sponsors of the 2012 Olympics so consequently the object of the exercise was to design a mobile app based on the Olympics. But that was not all, it had to include social media and as Samsung are also one of the sponsors of the Olympics, it had to run on Android devices. Obviously being in Google and their ‘connection’ with Android was purely coincidental 🙂 We were given loads of Cadbury related assets such as RGB values of their corporate colours and images as well as free food and drinks. Most of the free food was chocolate and after a couple of hours I had had enough – even with my love of Dairy Milk.

I decided to use Twitter and make a relay race. Players would register in advance using their Twitter ids and then added to a team. The “baton” would be a trend that was passed between players and the app would control who had the baton, who it would need to be passed on to and pass all of this data onto Twitter so people could follow the race. The GPS coordinates of the handover would be logged so that there could be a prize for the longest route as for the quickest time to get from the 1st player to the last. I called it the Joyville Relay after Cadbury’s recent advertising campaign. I also used Phonegap. Whilst it looks a really good tool, I wanted to see if it was good enough to build a robust product. And, I think it’s fair to say that it is. Passing data to a MySQL database, the visuals, everything performed just as I would have expected if I had written it as a native Android app. So I am very impressed. I got most of it completed but I had to bail out early as I was concerned about driving the 4 hours home. All that was left to do was to sort out the player registration and it was good to go. Below are some screenshots of the game.

Joyville Relay Joyville Relay

My Flickr set

Craftivism videos

So after over 2 years, I’ve finally put my videos up from the Craftivism exhibition that I was a part of here. Enjoy 🙂

Kinetic drivers created.

According to geek.com drivers for the Kinect have been made using Linux and OpenGL. The full article can be read here

Craftivism workshop

As part of the Craftivism project at the Arnolfini, I’m taking part in a workshop with GOTO10 called /mode + v noise. Using Python and Supercollider, we’re gonna be making our own software sound synthesiser and chat bots that will be used to manipulate and turn chat on an IRC channel into a music score.

Random hacks of kindness

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo put aside their differences to build tools for emergency workers – http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10398073-245.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20. The site for the project is here.

Video Game as a Production Tool

I’ve been a bit lapse in updating my blog but here’s my thoughts and research.

I had originally been interested in exploring games as a metaphor for software development considering my love of football but the more I read, the more I became interested in video games being used as development software. I was already aware of machinima following on from my attempts at it last year but I was quite keen to explore other avenues. Something that started to appeal was a practice called sonichima; producing generative audio from playing a video game. Not being much of a gamer, I thought it would be fun to make a piece of ‘music’ now and then practice so that I became more adept at the game and then make another piece, almost like turning the game into a musical instrument. However what I discovered was that it didn’t really have much of an impact on the improvement of the sound generated.

Following on from this, I did more research and was particularly interested in Alison Mealy’s project Unreal Art and Julian Oliver and Steven Pickles’ project q3apd. They used different games but each had a common technique; that of making maps so that they had more control over the outcome. Therefore I decided that I would try the same using the level editor of Unreal Tournament. Effectively working backwards in my opinion, I worked out the locations where my bot needed to be so that the x and y coordinates logged into the system file would generate the required note in my Processing script – or at least as close as possible to be fairly recognizable. To hear the results and to loadup your own UT system log and make music, follow the link below.

Unreal Soundz

Video Games as a Production Tool readme


For my project, I have decided to revisit something that I had initially looked at some time ago. Still keeping with the theme of gaming, I’ve decided to drop the idea of using a real-world game or a sport to generate the digital in favour of using a computer game as an instrument or even an orchestra to generate sound. I have always liked the work of Alison Mealey who uses Unreal Tournament to generate art. Some of her work can be seen in this interview with artificial.dk – http://www.artificial.dk/articles/alison.htm. She uses the positions of the bots within the game to draw coloured circles and every time there is a death in the game she uses it to draw a black circle. I have also liked and have been inspired by the work of Friedrich Kirschner and his person2184 series of films which, as with Alison, he made using Unreal Tournament. Unlike her though, he uses the inbuilt editor to construct the set and then plays and records the film within the game. With both of them, I like how they use the game as the tool for their work which is something I want to explore.

I want to extract the data from a live game and feed it into PD or Max/MSP to generate sound. I’m also keen to explore the idea of “learning” the game as you would an instrument. I’m not a particularly strong gamer and so it could be interesting to hear the sounds made at the start of project before I learn to play and compare them to the sounds made once I’ve mastered it.

Some more thoughts

Ok, still thinking about a game but this time I’m considering using a chess match. I think the strategies that are used in chess could be quite interesing when applied to software development. I’ve recently read about a chess game Duchamp played with John Cage at a concert called Reunion where the music was produced by a series of photoelectric cells underneath each square of the chessboard which were sporadically triggered during normal game play. I had originally considered just mapping the moves but maybe I could hack one of those chess computers and connect it up to a “normal” computer to register the moves and generate the code dynamically.

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.


I’ve really started to get into machinima recently. I’ve seen a few episodes of Red vs Blue but that’s about it. During a talk given by Mike Salmond last week, he said he was interested in games as an art form and someone asked him what he thought about Machinima so I thought I’d have a look around. Machinima.com has loads listed as well as some tips on how to make them. World of Warcraft – Shutup and Dance! is well worth a look as is James Bond: No Licence but The Journey is just fantastic. It’s based on Unreal Tournament 2004 and couldn’t be more different. Then check out Person2184 which is also based on Unreal Tournament 2004.

Apart from them being visually stunning, I think I like them coz they match what I now consider to be the underlying idea of my project in that they’re following the true hacker’s remit that Wark talked about. They’re taking something, a finished product and building upon it to produce something else, something completely different to the original.