Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Bom fellows talk

Here's the talk I did at BOM recently regarding what I'd like to achieve during my fellowship there.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

I'm a busy fella

So this year I'm a Artist Fellow at Birmingham Open Media (or simply BOM as it's better known) and it looks like I've roped myself in for a nosedive back into some artistic ideas I once left behind, plus a whole string of workshops and even an anamatronic art installation.

So a week or so ago I did a quick introduction to myself at the gallery in a day of talks which included previous fellows Antonio Roberts (prolific glitch artist now tangling with Birmingham's Eye of Sauron with identity-defying masks), Leon Trimble (VJ Chromatouch - creating domed immersive projections) and Amy Martin (director of Famalam a progressive childcare project). If you'd like to see me slobbing out, hiding under a chair, or roaring down a microphone you can read a brief summary of my 3 main projects on the BOM website.

"So what's going on with these projects and what's in store for us?" I hear you scream at the screen as 1s and 0s cascade over your face and your pint of wine starts to warm. Well... as well as the usual coding frenzy... Psicon Lab is currently teamed up with sculptor Halina Dominska and working on bringing fleshy objects to life using some electrical components and an Arduino. Check out Halina's blog here for loads more on that, and keep an eye out later in the year for the degree show at Margaret Street's School of Art (BCU) where it will be on display.
Halina's design sketches for interactive sculptures
MaggotHouse has brought long-time music project Octopod back to the stage after the well received Three EP which was released last year. After a short set at the 8 Bit Lounge at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, the duo opened a night for Stourbridge's legendary hardcore event Carnage Club before Stinky Wizzleteat and Seal Clubber tore the roof down with their ultra-heavyweight doom-laden sets. Wearing hoodies and black metal corpse-paint, this was the first time Octopod's new Black Metal look was unveiled complete with live guitars and wretched vocals. I was pleased to see the MaggotHouse label sampler CDs dissapear in seconds after the set and reactions to the new sound we're really encouraging, so hopefully we'll see more events from them soon.

Meanwhile back in the Meggabaase... Swoomptheeng are regrouping after a busy start to the year with a body-rocking gig for promoters Der Die Das in Feb and an entire arcade machine complete with Pacman/Jaws mashup in the 21 Pirates exhibition at the MAC (Midlands Art Centre).
Swoomptheeng live last year
So next up is a series of kid's electrical gadgets workshops and I've promised a tribal art gallery music event for later in the year at BOM, so plenty to get excited by there too :)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Interactive Art installations with Chinese Arduinos on OSX

Last year as part of the awesome performance art event that is Fierce Festival I triggered some ultrasonic sensors using cheap Chinese Arduino Nanos bought from eBay for an art installation I worked on at BOM with OneFiveWest called "Code and Carpentry".

The ultrasonics work as motion and distance detectors and send MIDI data back to an Apple Mac which played this synth - called Helm - by Matt Tytel.

In the installation we had 2 areas fitted with a combo of 4 ultrasonics each which meant you could play an "air-theramin" to create music with smooth adjustments or just trigger sounds as you pass by. The third sound-toy you see in the video is a touch sensitive rail we created. See it all in action below.

The Chinese Nanos are great and super-cheap (we we're on a tight budget!), they run just like official Arduinos from a PC but mysteriously didn't work on a Mac, so after a bit of noodling around online I found out you need some Chinese drivers to get them talking which you can get from this Chinese site, but Apple have recently changed a few things for OSX "El Capitan" or "Yosamite" and you'll need to do a little bit more work if you have them as documented here.

The girls of OneFiveWest have recently had a Narnian wardrobe on show at The REP Theatre alongside BOM fellow Leon Trimble aka Chromatouch which sounded fun, and now have something going on in Manchester at Madlab - see keep your eyes out for that.

Monday, 11 January 2016

VLC ugly? Make your own skin

Everybody loves VLC, it's  a wicked media player that will play everything, but... my God it's ugly.

I've had a good look around online trying to find a decent skin for it for ages with little satisfaction, so why not make your own?

The videolan skin editor is really easy to use and you can make your very own skin quickly and easily. Need a start point? Well just open up someone else's skin and edit that. It's simple and you can finally have a VLC player that suits your eyes as well as all your media playback needs.

If you're good with Photoshop just draw your icons and chop them up using the slice tool, save as html and images and you'll have everything you need for your own sexy VLC skin.

Mac users -sorry skins just don't work on a mac :(