Pecha Kucha Dundee

Category : Amazing Rolo, Dundee

Tonight I’ll be giving a short presentation at the Pecha Kucha Night in Dundee. Organized by the wonderful folks over at Creative Dundee, it promises to be a fascinating night of rapid-fire unrelated talks. My presentation will be about the History of the Branding of Lothian Buses (very similar to the Pecha Kucha Edinburgh I did in February). For the non-Scots in the audience, Lothian Buses is one of the main bus operators in the Edinburgh area.

On the surface, my talk has nothing to do with any of my current projects. However, I would argue that it is about interface, audience, and history, which are three things that I try and approach in all of my work.

The event is at 7pm tonight, 22 May, at Chamber East in Dundee. See you there!

Gelkies at the Hannah Maclure

Last year I was lucky enough to be the Digital Media Artist in Residence at the University of Abertay, Dundee, a position funded by the Scottish Arts Council. It was an amazing experience for me and my career, and it officially culminated in the production of my first solo gallery show, which took place at the Hannah Maclure Gallery. This show was called “Gelkies”, and opened in November 2009. The show was presented as a sort of zoo, with the eponymous Gelkies being strange creatures native to rural Scotland. I even made a nature documentary about them:

Here is a video that documents the installation itself:

Tomorrow I’ll be giving a talk about the Gelkies to the fabulous folks from Central Station as part of their exciting Dundee Pop-Up tour. Looking forward to it!

Expected Arrival Time

Expected Arrival Time
Last Friday saw the premiere of my new installation Expected Arrival Time in Dundee, as part of the Winter Light Night event. This piece came together surprisingly quickly, thanks to the support of John Gray from the Dundee City Council and Donna Holford-Lovell from Abertay University Cultural Projects, and an incredible amount of help and hard work from Ken Rusk from Abertay.
Expected Arrival Time
For Expected Arrival Time, a series of disused LED bus shelter signs from the city of Dundee were built into a large array of nearly two meters tall, and I made a system for controlling their flashing based on sound. The whole structure was placed in an empty shop front in downtown Dundee, with a microphone hanging from a window above the sidewalk. The microphone picked up the ambient sound of the street and sent that to the bus signs, which flashed in different ways in response to the sound. Watch the video to see it in action!

NeON Festival, Dundee

Last week I was very pleased to play a small part in the first edition of NeON, an amazing festival of digital media and interactive design in Dundee (a city which has many, many, many claims to fame in those fields). But why don’t I let the Scottish news media tell you about it instead? You may even see someone you know…

Thanks to all of the organizers for a wonderful event, it was really great to be involved. And of course thanks to everyone who came to my workshops, the questions and discussions could have gone on all night!

The Gelkies in Dundee

The Gelkies will be at the Hannah Maclure Gallery in Dundee as part of the “Word Games” exhibit with Gayle Meikle. The opening is tonight at 6pm, and the show continues until July 17th. Here is the text that will accompany the piece:

The Gelkie is a strange and mythical creature, whose very existence was in doubt until recently. Native to Scotland, the Hannah Maclure Centre is delighted to present these highly endangered specimens in something resembling their natural habitat. Researchers are still puzzling over their mating habits, but what is clear is that male and female Gelkies must form pairs in order to communicate in their peculiar language of light and sound. A solitary Gelkie is a sad sight indeed, unable to express the slightest noise. But while they naturally form couples, scientists are perplexed by their tendency to spend most of their lives arguing. With time, and your support, Gelkies can flourish throughout Scotland. Please contact the Scottish Gelkie Appreciation Society (SGAS) for information about how you can help these remarkable creatures.

GelkiesMy name in lights.

Wii + Video = Fun

Tomorrow night I will be doing a performance at the launch event for the new issue of Yuck n Yum, a publication by a group of pretty hip artists in Dundee.

This show is going to be a bit of a departure for me, as I will be doing some new things that I have not yet tried in public! Hurray! Because of this, I thought it would be fun to give a sneak peek of just what exactly I will be doing. That’s what blogs are for, right?

This picture shows most of what I will be using, conveniently labeled for you (click to enlarge).
The equipment list is:

  • 3 Wii remotes with Nunchuk attachments
  • Laptop
  • one-stringed guitar, fitted with ultrasonic and light sensors
  • Arduino microcontroller
  • mixer, preamps, etc
  • projector

I’ve set out a process for creating sound out of all of this mess, with video as the starting point (another first for me).

The first step, then, is the video. I made a patch in Jitter for controlling two video streams independently, and overlaying them. The two videos can be warped, stretched, colored, and mixed together in real time. The output of each manipulated video stream is being analyzed, and sent to a synthesizer which is creating sound based on the visuals. Thus, by manipulating the videos, which are then generating sound, the video manipulation becomes an “instrument” of sorts.

In addition, the audio of each video can also be used independently of the visuals and passed through various effects.

The guitar, meanwhile, is fitted with various sensors that are plugged into an Arduino. These sensors will control sampling and playback of the guitar signal, creating textures underneath all of the sound from the videos.

Finally, the webcam on my laptop will also be activated, using live footage of myself to trigger more synthesis in Jitter.

Where do the Wii remotes fit into all of this? Well, rather than sitting in front of my laptop clicking through my Jitter patch, I will be using several wii remotes to control it all, with the ultimate goal of being able to do the whole performance without touching the computer at all. All of the video manipulation, audio effects, guitar sampling and playback, and synthesis will be controlled with the Wii remotes. The rotation of each video, for example, will be controlled by twisting and turning my left hand, while the playback speed of each video will be mapped to the movements of my right hand. A wii remote will be attached to the guitar, so the angle of the instrument will dictate the pitch of the sample playback.

Does that makes sense? My goal was to try and combine video mixing, Wii remotes, and music. If you’re in the Dundee area you should definitely come along. If not, the show will hopefully be recorded and I will definitely post the video as soon as I can.

A new home (away from home away from home)

Category : Abertay, Dundee

Hello again from Dundee, the city of Jam, Jute, and Journalism. I recently started a residency at Abertay University, where I am now the New Media Artist in the amazing new Whitespace.

It’s a fantastic place, a huge area that used to be the heavy engineering department which is now dedicated to digital media in all it’s forms…there are recording studios, media production suites, and creative professionals, all sharing space with students studying video game production, sound, video, you name it. It’s a great atmosphere, and I get a workspace amidst it all.

Over the next nine months or so I hope to spend about three days a week here, where I will be developing some of the artistic projects I haven’t had time for recently. These include some video work, some music, some game-based-art, some mechanical noise making devices, and so on. And I’ll be blogging about it as much as possible!

Mother Courage

Category : Dundee, Music, Theater

I’m back in Dundee these days, working at the Dundee Rep Theatre again. Everyone here is so professional and friendly, it’s always a pleasure to come back.

This time around I’m playing piano, trumpet, guitar, and some electronics for Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Gerry Mulgrew and starring Ann Louise Ross. It’s a great production that will be running until September 27th, so do come on by if you’re in the area!

Hello from up north

Category : Dundee, Theater, Wii

It’s been a busy month! Since late November I’ve been in Dundee, Scotland most of the time, playing in the Dundee Rep’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s a panto, which for me is a totally new experience. Non-British readers can learn about panto here. It’s a rather silly form in some ways, with lots of audience participation and cheesy jokes, but this production has very good acting and amazing sets and great original music by John Harris. I’m playing piano, guitar, bass, trumpet, and controlling samples and such with my laptop.

In my spare time I’ve been working on the Wii Loop Machine, of course, and I’m happy to report that things are going well. I’m also happy to announce that I am now an EPIS scholar, which means that I have official support from the University of Edinburgh to develop the Wii Loop Machine, and once this show has finished I will be working on my Wii projects full time.

All of this means that my release date for version 2.0 has been pushed to January. Starting in a few weeks I hope to post videos and screenshots of the software in action! I’m hugely excited to get back at it. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and patience!