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Current Students

Students currently studying Master in Creative Arts Practice

Ares Rabe 

Shawn Ma

Chloe Manyue Yu 

Chrissy Shou Yu Chen

Ben Woolsey

Megan Wilson

Jade Mallabone

Garry Lydon

Michael Hirst

Sarah Davy

Alexei Crawley

Lewis Brown

Daniel Bradwell

Ashley Bowes

 

 

Previous Students

CAP

2015-2016

Meena DaneshyarMaria Clemente – AlbaceteSean Cotterill

Xiyuan TanYue WangRiar Rizaldi

Daniel Parry

 

Previous Students

CAP

2014-2015

MeteorEdmund Nesveda

Clive WrightChilly Rain

Wenya ChenTrong Cuong Dao

Yousif AbdulghaniTan

BartiZhang Wei

 

2013-2014

Yinzhen BaoTatiana Fujimori
Jaejun HwangSaksit Knunkitti
Wenchang LinClare Robertson
Tunc Karkutoglu

Mres Digital Media
Adrian ParkBen HoldenIsobel Taylor
James DavollNina LimardoXue Yan
Aaron SmilesAlessandro AltavillaAndrew Nixon
Andrzwej WojtasBen FreethBen Thompson
Helen CollardJane DudmanJoseph Pochciol
Pengfei ZhangSanjay Mortimer
Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (Tikul)

 

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Current Students

Students currently studying Master in Creative Arts Practice

Ares Rabe 

Shawn Ma

Chloe Manyue Yu 

Chrissy Shou Yu Chen

Ben Woolsey

Megan Wilson

Jade Mallabone

Garry Lydon

Michael Hirst

Sarah Davy

Alexei Crawley

Lewis Brown

Daniel Bradwell

Ashley Bowes

 

 

Previous Students

CAP

2015-2016

Meena DaneshyarMaria Clemente – AlbaceteSean Cotterill

Xiyuan TanYue WangRiar Rizaldi

Daniel Parry

 

Previous Students

CAP

2014-2015

MeteorEdmund Nesveda

Clive WrightChilly Rain

Wenya ChenTrong Cuong Dao

Yousif AbdulghaniTan

BartiZhang Wei

 

2013-2014

Yinzhen BaoTatiana Fujimori
Jaejun HwangSaksit Knunkitti
Wenchang LinClare Robertson
Tunc Karkutoglu

Mres Digital Media
Adrian ParkBen HoldenIsobel Taylor
James DavollNina LimardoXue Yan
Aaron SmilesAlessandro AltavillaAndrew Nixon
Andrzwej WojtasBen FreethBen Thompson
Helen CollardJane DudmanJoseph Pochciol
Pengfei ZhangSanjay Mortimer
Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (Tikul)

 

Listen to the Ionosphere breathing

The Ionosphere, electrically charged layer of Earth’s atmosphere, stretches from 50 to 100km into the sky. Responsible for radio propagation, it is possible to listen to the sound of the winds and radio signals at that altitude, using two metal poles stretching 5 to 6 metres off the ground. Linked by a variety of wires the device, hooked to a recorder and headphones, allows us to listen to the strong winds hundreds of kilometres above us. The resulting sound can then be used and distorted with an audio editor such as Audacity or Ableton for “cosmic” relief.

“Ionosphere Orchestra”, the creative composition that CAP students improvised, will make your ears bleed but it offers a view into the possibilities that can be achieved through various ethnographic practices and audio editing.

 

 

Human memory vs. Computer memory

brain2

I found the lecture on memory storage from the start of the semester very interesting, and I have been thinking about it quite a lot. Recently I lost about a week’s worth of data from my laptop and it got me thinking about memory more.
One of the things I had lost was the project file for a new track I’d been working on. The track was sort of finished, but I hadn’t been happy with the ending and there were some touchups I would have liked to make. However, I was now unable (at least without a lot of work) not able to do so. Fortunately for me, I had exported and uploaded the unfinished track on Soundcloud (privately), so I still had what I’d made. Instead of ditching the track (as I sometimes would in this case), I decided to work around the context of the lost project file.
The track is musically very simple, revolving around a piano loop and a breakbeat and some speech samples. The main speech sample says “Take this mild drug, and you will have a nice sleep without any nightmares.” So I thought about how when I don’t sleep well (as is often the case), it usually revolves around some uncomfortable memory, and the ingestion of a drug would be to effectively ‘repress’ these memories. Perhaps my laptop needed to repress some memories and that was the problem?
I thought this fit weirdly well with the structure of the song as well. The repetitive nature of it, accompanied with growing distortion and a sudden cut at the end mimics (at least for me) the process of trying to sleep and the stress involved (sometimes), followed by the sudden unconsciousness. The track can be found here:

 

I made some artwork to reflect this as well. I started with an MRI Brain scan, that I distorted using a ‘pinch’ tool (I changed the colours too). This was to mimic shrinkage in the brain (associated with memory loss), but also happened to make a nice pattern (pictured right). This aesthetically pleasing result of my ‘damaged’ brain reminded me of ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, which provides some interesting insight into human memory (as well as just being a great film).
Anyway, I wasn‘t totally satisfied with this as a final artwork, so I went in search of a damaged polaroid filter (I guess to make my point more obvious). The one I settled on has the appearance of the top half being burned away, which when overlaid with the MRI scan, removes most of the brain (pictured left).

 

 

I guess my thoughts at the end of this have been about how we like to intervene with memory. A perfect memory is often seen as a virtue, and yet I’m sure most people have things they would rather forget. Preservation of memory is perhaps easier, particularly in this age where you can record almost anything you do. The removal of human memories is something that people perhaps fantasise about, and is actually the basis of the afore-mentioned ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. There would of course be problems surrounding this (which is explored in the film), as often our negative experiences shape us, and the removal of them would make us ‘less human’. As I don’t want to babble (I may have already), I’ll finish on a Nietzsche quote:

“Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.”

External Signal Processing w/ Coil Pick Up

IMG_2689

I’ve been thinking about how to expand the use of my newly acquired coil pick up, and i’ve been recently playing around with a couple basic external signal processing patches (trigger our/in, CV in, V-F converter) with my Korg MS-20, you put one and one together and you get this;

 

Although this is a rather stripped down basic patch/setup, it has the potential to be a foundation for more experimentation – I plan on creating my own monstrosity of a coil pick up and doing some further weird things.

 


Screenwriting rant

Tldr; passive-aggressive vagueing about narrative structure being haaaaard

Screenwriting has been interesting so far. I picked it because I wanted to expand my writing skills a bit, because I thought I would like it more than stage scripts and because it might be relevant to any attempts at games writing/narrative design I make in the future. I don’t think its too early to say that its achieved all of those pretty well already. I’ve already learned a lot about the format, about screen directions and plot structure (reading the screenplay for the Night Manager was a really helpful exercise), but there are some elements I’ve struggling with as well.

Namely, dramatic structure. The good old ‘who’s our protagonist, what do they want, why can’t they have it’ formula, with 5 main plot points starting with the inciting incident and ending with the character changing in some way, maybe getting what they wanted, but never in the way they thought they would get it. That one, as reductively misrepresented here.

On the one hand, I’m definitely not claiming it doesn’t work. I can’t claim better than the combined history of cinema and television, which both seem pretty sold on it. Learning it and sticking to it is almost certainly going to serve me very well in future projects. But right now, as we’re pitching our script ideas to our tutor and plotting out our screenplays, it feels like satisfying all the demands of narrative structure in a novel way is more or less the only metric of whether or not a script has the potential to be any good.

Which makes sense, I suppose. A script has to be pitched, directed and produced, after all, and I don’t pretend to be an avant-garde genius that knows a better way of banking on the narrative potential of a piece of writing. My complaints are probably all fairly typical prose-writer-y complaints: I do feel a bit naked with all my precious backstory exposition and internal character voice stripped away.

It’s not as if I don’t like my current dramatic-structure-approved screenplay idea, but it is definitely a few numbers down the list of ideas I’m excited about working on. The others were all beyond the scope of what we get to do on this module or just didn’t fit the narrative structure well enough for me to convince my tutor they’d be worth working on.

Which is also reasonable. It’s not as if I’m going to try something that actively goes against that formula, if only because I lack a compelling reason to do so. I can keep my less dramatically-satisfying ideas for other projects. But it would be nice to get something more than a working understanding of screenwriting and colour-by-numbers screenplay out of this module.

There definitely are scripted narratives that rely on elements other than dramatic structure in order to be good. But that doesn’t get me anywhere, unless I’m in a situation where I can surrender the burden of making-the-thing-good to animators or graphic designers or software engineers.

Who knows where I’m going with this rant. At the end of the day, this has already been a great learning experience. But even if a colour-by-numbers screenplay does end up happening to help me secure a decent mark, I’m going to see if I can’t find a way to bend this piece of coursework a little bit more to my purposes, one way or another.

 

 

MUS8161: Thank You, Free Music Practice

Morning Smoke

I cannot express how much I’m enjoying getting stuck into the Free Music Practice module. We’re building on some of the ideas I was toying with in HSS8120- like my ‘considered un-consideration’ theory. I’ve found the sessions and seminars really very inspiring, and in the process of completing my portfolio submission I think I’m creating some interesting work [pictures, writing and music].

It comes as a ‘discovery‘ for me; I haven’t grown up surrounded by these ideals of art, I have had my own experience with it’s own implications- and as such, the act of creating with the specific intent of ignoring perceived limitations has been a real liberation in a sense, and an eye-opener in another. It’s like disregarding the rules has made me more aware of all the things I was imposing upon myself without even realising.

Pictured above, is an essay I’m currently writing for the module. I’m approaching this in the spirit of the rest of the work; in this case, I’m writing it in smalls chunks (as much or as little as I want), when/wherever I feel like it, before censoring it over so I can’t see what I’ve just written. I’m fairly certain this will produce some sporadic results, I just hope it makes sense enough to be good- although, maybe I don’t?

In other news, below is an edit of a session with ‘Lemon Knxledge,’ an improvising band that we’ve started in perfect timing for this module. I think we’re going to do a performance at the start of next month courtesy of a gig that Ares is organising? Sunday 2nd April, upstairs in the evening at Bar Loco.

Vocals – Alexei Crawley

Synths – Ben Woolsey

Guitar – Garry Lydon

Drums – Jonah Scholfield-Lott

 

DMS8013: 5. 3D and Making: ‘we cannot discuss “things” outside of their shape’

primitives_new-640x269

I was standing inline in a farm equipment shop in Montana once, buying parts for a project, when I noticed that of seven people in the line I was the only one who had two working pairs of hands. eyes. ears or legs. Until then, I had flattered myself that I worked with my hands. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, 16 Reflective Bits about the Maker Movement.

Aims:

  • To look at some tools and technologies for drawing, animating and making in 3D
  • To learn about how computers ‘see’ 3D space
  • To think about the politics of making artefacts with computers

Tools and Technologies

We are taking on (or possibly conflating) a lot in one session here. We might break down some of the tools to include:

  • Generative 3D (graphics and modelling). Software includes; Processing, Grasshopper/Rhino, Openframeworks, Cinder
  • Building software for CNC (computer numerical control) such as; Solidworks, Sketchup,
  • 3D animation/modelling/gaming e.g. Maya, 3D Studio Max, Cinema 4D, Unity

Despite this (arguable) conflation, there are a lot of things we can think about in common between (some of) them such as:

  • use of coordinate space x,y,z
  • terminology and concepts including; textures, normals, uv mapping, vertices, edges, faces
  • OPENGL (and DirectX); matrix transformation, graphics buffers, renders, lighting, cameras

Seeing 3D space

In high performance applications 3D graphics are processed on the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) rather than the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The GPU has a frame buffer(s) – a chunk of memory for storing pixel data and a processor setup that’s good for doing a lot of things in parallel (like transforming matrix data).

The matrix

Drawing things in 3D is complicated. A lot of the more difficult things are wrapped up for us in environments like Processing or Openframeworks but sometimes it helps to have an idea what’s going on underneath. To take an example of this let’s have a look at ‘vertex winding’ (see the openframeworks docs for more).

 

Another example is in so-called ‘matrix transformations’.

There’s an excellent introduction into matrix translations here. If you like that kind of thing, you can also find the maths here.

Mimesis

“a realist guarantee for the unreal”

The industry has expended huge amounts of time and money trying to mimic the way objects behave in real life or in early art forms (such as Renaissance painting). For instance see this article about cameras, this one about lights and this about physics (specifically it’s about Box2D an ‘engine’ for recreating collisions, gravity etc behind the hit game ‘Angry Birds’).

The ‘Maker Movement’

So far we’ve mostly discussed 3D on screens but of course the development of 3D modelling tools is connected to a hugely important phenomenon – that of the modern 3D prototyping ‘fab’ lab and more broadly the ‘Maker Movement’.

Makers’ Bill of Rights http://cdn.makezine.com/make/MAKERS_RIGHTS.pdf

Politics and Prosumerism

One perspective on the Maker Movement is that is a manifestation of political action in the form of prosumerism. It is a reaction to the blandness and homogeneity of industrial capitalism. If we can modify, hack and create for ourselves, this is ostensibly a form of political protest. Many commenters point out though that this aspect of maker culture has been effectively co-opted by industry – in particular O’Reilly, Maker Faire and Make magazine.

‘What is called ‘making’ in North America and Europe is. frankly, a luxurious pastime of wealthy people who rightly recognise that their lives are less full because they are alienated from material culture, almost all of which is products produced by corporate interests. Sadly, rather than address the problem. makers develop a hobby that solves the symptom for them, but if anything slightly strengthens the disease.’ Chris Csikszentmihalyi, 16 Reflective Bits about the Maker Movement.

‘Socially engaged making, of necessity. is engaged in a dialectic with its alternatives: commercial and corporate mass production on the one hand, and craft on the other Even when making is about self-expression. practitioners choose this form because they are attracted to the technological product as a genre. […] Making is always a political act. even if the denotative utility of the thing made is not political.’ Chris Csikszentmihalyi, 16 Reflective Bits about the Maker Movement.

Other Material Cultures

The point about material culture though is an interesting one, for artists specifically. For some the connection between non-linear computer technologies and the capacity to create things in the physical world is a way of re-evaluating craft practice. It’s also worth noting that the intersection of traditional crafts (such as knitting) and contemporary technologies (like arduino) has proved an in-point for people who don’t necessarily identify with common tropes of computing aesthetics – e.g. chip tunes, glitch, computer vision generated imagery, projection mapping etc.

Image Varvara and Mar http://www.varvarag.info/circular-knitic/

…and ‘Other’ Communities

As I hinted above, one kind of value, perhaps, for the Maker Movement (or better movements) is in fostering particular kinds of community, often but not always around a particular maker space or project. For instance Kaiton Williams on Jamaican DIY describes how his father’s propensity to tinker inflected the son’s future engagement with the material world. A perceived value for the made outputs of many communities is in expressing a vision for the material world which is not produced by a narrow band of society and is consequently reflective of other kinds of value and priority. None of this is necessarily contingent on access to CNC-type tools but there is a sense in which assuming contemporary forms of production proposes a different kind of ‘answer’ to the dominance of mass produced products. A nice example to finish on is here. In this project, Kuznetsov and her co-authors build arduino based soil quality sensors with members of a community garden. Cheap and accurate commercial sensors are available but the authors describe the value of the building process in learning about the specifics of the local soil chemistry, interacting with their environment and perceiving time differently.

Further Reading

A truly excellent resource for reading about Critical Making can be found here.

Pre Task

Read the article here on matrix translations and code the accompanying examples.

Read Geert Lovink and Michael Dieter on Making in the Digital Age here. Come prepared to explain one of the theses and explain why you agree or disagree.

And also look at processing examples in the following sections:

Basics->camera
Basics->lights
Topics->textures

Total Bombardment

CIS_bombardment_SoD_part2

A blog about blogging.

Prepare for total bombardment!! I haven’t blogged in a wee while but there is lots to tell!!

I realise I haven’t blogged about anything I have been working on pre/post post-truth so I have plans to drop all retrospective bits n bobs on you in the coming days. Yippeeeeee.

Solar Circuitry

 

Look, okay, I’m not that great at this blogging thing/ maybe.  I’m trying so be nice.

A little time ago now, we built some synthesizers using circuit breadboards and colourful little wires. Attached to our little circuits were some little solar panels; which detect little rays of light, and changed things a little bit accordingly-you could sort of alter the order of things within the circuit for differing effects as well.

We took these little devices a little but out of culture lab and annoyed the general public a little with a symphony of eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

This project got me a little hot under the collar, and all excited about circuits. It was a little bit like being back in little school, as I have very vague memories of doing Basic Circuit Stuff then.

In the little video above, you can see some stylish and aesthetic close ups of our devices. I also decided to colour the whole thing with a tinge, to reflect the melancholic feelings of all the people we irritated doing this little project.

Writing with constraints

I’m reading about the Oulipo at the moment (tldr: they’re a movement of mostly French-speaking writers and mathematicians that impose constraints upon their work to spark new ideas and creativity). I came to them off the back of interactive fiction and tabletop games, since those are both forms which impose very specific restrictions on their creators and/or audiences, but so far the Oulipo has gotten me thinking more about poetry.

I used to really hate writing in traditional poetic forms: sonnets, haikus, vilanelles, etc (limericks get a pass), but more recently I have found adhering to specific forms or rules productive in one or two cases. I intend to pursue this further, trying out some new forms perhaps or finding some new ‘constraints’ to play with once I dig a bit further into the reasoning behind the Oulipo, but here are my examples for now:

Predictive – written using phone’s ‘suggested word’ function, cut down and formatted (it seems that this is what my phone thinks I type about):

On the other hand
you’re looking forward to the utopia
a lot more than just being able to be
in the morning

all art is truth through a film and
I was stressed about deadlines
and a good idea to be
in the morning

and that abomination of your control
the statue of liberty
and hang out with everyone
socially

a mushroom cloud, black poison
a mushroom, cloud computing is truth in sand.
a mushroom soup
a mushroom cloud, the narrator of your vision

I was so happy for each update on Saturday,
the one about adding an additional download
four times a day I hope
you have a war of words between stereotypes and hearts

the first time since I was waiting for each update
on Saturday I was stressed about deadlines
and a random number
for the first time since the battle

for the first time since the battle for
the first time in space I probably wouldn’t be much fun
for the first time since his spinal cord injury
and hearts are you holding

a good holiday season is constantly changing their minds
and hearts in the chaos
resulting from the tidal wave
striking the first eighteen years of your control

over your control over the statue of a known individual
on the other hand you’re looking forward
to being able to be
severely limited in the morning

and hearts are
we going back to the bottom of a bustling city
it would help if they were not meant to exist
on god’s green acre

an expression of a known issue with the new year
everyone has reportedly been extremely violent
a known abomination has reportedly been sighted
near the first eighteen years of your experience.
Nothing is Sacred – a sestina (six stanzas, each with six lines, and each line must end with a specific word in a rotating pattern):

‘Nothing is sacred but the sea,’
says the sailor, nearing port.
The cold wind stirs the whiskers on his chin.
He is no longer proud to be alive
the last remaining of his crew
a crime that he repents in vain.

The others prayed to God, in vain
for ‘nothing is sacred but the sea,’
or that’s what the captain told the crew
just as they were leaving port.
‘There’s only one law – stay alive,’
he said, as he rubbed his bearded chin.

The beard upon the captain’s chin
did shield him from the cold in vain.
A man needs more than warmth to stay alive
adrift upon the starving sea
and when for gold he would not make port
he made enemies of the homesick crew.

To mutiny he lost the crew
and they split a gash beneath his chin.
Pirates now, they could not return to port.
They sought some blessed sanctuary in vain
but found nothing sacred but the sea
and just one law – ‘stay alive’.

But they could not all come back alive
not without food, so lots were drawn among crew
for no meat goes to waste at sea.
Of those men with hollow, trembling chins
twelve of thirteen prayed in vain
and only one came back to port.

It was a ghost ship that returned to port
or, almost – the thirteenth sailor was still alive
his fellows did not die in vain.
When they asked what happened to the crew
he answered, red juice dripping from his chin
that nothing is sacred but the sea.

New Music – Possible Direction for Final Performance

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating ‘Metal’ music through purely electronic means in my head for a while now. This came about when thinking about my final performance in August. As much of the music I have made over the last few years has gone between Electronic Dance Music and Metal I think this would be an interesting way to subvert both practices. As I would be making electronic music, but not for a club context as I normally would; and I would be making metal music but not in a band context. How I would perform this is not clear to me yet, but I feel I’ve made progress towards a stylistic direction this week.

This was actually unintentional, and just started from me messing around with ‘dream2’ from the new Code Orange album when on a long train journey. I didn’t really have an intended outcome with this

(which is often how I like to create). This resulted in a lo-fi mash of genres from Trap to Gabber. Drawing from Gabber brought me to an interesting realisation actually. It is not a style of music I like,

however I found that using the style outside of a Dance-Music context gave me a different perspective (it’s basically an electronic blast-beat).
Anyway, here’s the track:

I’ll be starting work on some original (and performable) songs like this pretty soon…