One Note Guitar & Big Data!!! Presentation & commentary.

One Note Guitar & Big Data!!! Presentation & critical commentary.

For reference please refer to previous blog posts.

“Tiny Datum is something that displays and interacts with a very small number of data points during its existence. Tiny Datum’s data does not have to be stored or shared, its behaviour can be entirely ephemeral and self-fulfilling.” (Shaw, 2017)


As always thanks for reading/watching.

Kind regards,

Ryan. C. P. Boyle.

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Big Data!!!

For reference please refer to previous posts.

“Tiny Datum is something that displays and interacts with a very small number of data points during its existence. Tiny Datum’s data does not have to be stored or shared, its behaviour can be entirely ephemeral and self-fulfilling.” (Shaw, 2017)


I do not own all footage in this video nor do I claim too, It has been used for comical & artistic effect as part of an art piece for presentation at Newcastle University.

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The One Note Guitar.

In continuation of my post “Tiny Datum & the One Note Guitar.”; In this post, we will discuss the process of assembling the internal components and writing the accompanying application, and fitting the components into the already constructed “Instrument”.

To make the application that brings the image up on the screen & produces sound, I simply adapted one of the existing programming sketches that I’d recently written for another piece “Grey Spaces In Stereo”. I did so, by simply altering a few lines of code, please see my “Sketch Development Montage” on Youtube & see my earlier blog-post. For more information, refer to my earlier blog-posts or simply send me an email:

Stage 1: What the hell do we need?

As you can see in the first clip of the video I gathered all the required components, consisting of an Arduino, a breadboard, an ultrasonic sensor, and wires, LOTS OF WIRES!!! (Joking aside, you only need 4). Lastly, there’s the USB cable that connects the Arduino to the computer, which for this project needed to be really long… so it required a male to female USB extension.

Stage 2: What the hell do we do?

Assembly, so it’s pretty simple, from breadboard to Arduino the wires go, ground to ground, VCC to 5V power, Trig to 12 and Echo to 13. I also made a little wooden mount to keep the components upright and I used velcro to keep it all together (it’s only prototypical). I then, drilled a hole for the USB to run through on the main body.

Stage 3: What the hell was the point in that?

So the last thing that needed doing, was to mount the unit inside the guitar body. And then I just needed to test the “guitar”, as shown in the last clip of the video. Hopefully, you enjoyed the end result! I know I did. Utterly pointless and therefore brilliant, I’m pretty confident I hit the bullseye on this one, the concept is that the piece should be “Entirely ephemeral and self-fulfilling”. Nailed it.

Musical accompaniment:

Get Funked: recorded & composed by Ryan C. P. Boyle (c) 2017.

As always, thanks for reading!

Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle.

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The One Note Guitar, Creation Montage.

In this post, I’ll be discussing the stages of constructing the main physical body of the “One Note Guitar” artefact proposed in my last blog post. The video posted above is a time-lapsed creation montage of the design process, which shows the majority of the construction for everything, excluding the internal components which are not yet assembled despite the processing sketch being already written.

Stage one: Construction.

The first stage was the removal/shortening of the guitar’s neck/headstock, as you can see in the video I enlisted the help of my wife Erin Boyle throughout but initially to act instead of clamps for safety reasons, the restraining bolt in the neck provided some resistance but was eventually defeated by wit and determination. I then began to reattach the shortened neck to the body using large screws glue and tacks I then taped the area for reinforcement as the glue dried to not impede the process.

Stage 2: Decoration.

The second stage was to decorate the body of the guitar, after a bit of “online inspiration hunting” myself and my wife decided to opt for a “Steam Punk” or “Post-Apocalyptic” theme, as this was something we’d done before on a few different personal projects. We began by sticking various remnants and odds and ends to the bodywork using a glue gun in an effort to make the artefact seem distressed or messed-up. Then we finished it off with a copper base coat and a few extra touch-ups and embellishments using metallic paints over the top.

My thoughts and reflections on the finished base, are that it turned out quite well, truly sufficient for a piece which is prototypical in design & execution. Now that the appearance & housing-structure are complete the next stage is to construct the internal components, which I’ll discuss in my next post. The accompanying music for this video is an instrumental guitar piece titled “Southern Comforts” written and recorded by myself in my home studio late 2017.

Thanks for reading!

Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle.


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Tiny Datum & the One Note Guitar.

The “One Note Guitar” is my proposed response to the subject stimulus of “Tiny Datum” which is the antithesis of “Big Data” the concept is heavily themed around deliberate limitation, I’ve designed this “instrument” to be used in a presentation at Newcastle University in 2018, the concept is essentially this, I intend to build an instrument that is incredibly useless and more accurately described as an artifact.

The guitar-shaped instrument will only have one fret-space, which will then be permanently subjected to a capo, so it will quite literally be a “One Note” instrument only capable of playing an open string. Inside the body under the sound-hole of the instrument, there will be an ultrasonic sensor which detects hand movement and plays back an audio file of my voice shouting “ONE NOTE!”

This is to add an element of comedy to the piece, whereas I originally perceived the sound file as a classical guitar concerto,
I feel the comical element to be more appropriate. In order to achieve this, I will need to write a processing sketch that plays back a recorded sound file, the artefact will need to connect to a PC or Mac via USB in order to function with the sketch.

Partly, the inspiration for this piece came from Terry Rileys minimalist composition “In C” as It predominantly uses one note, my initial thought was to compose a one-note piece of music myself, but I migrated onto the idea of a physical instrument/artefact as I quite enjoyed the thought of getting my hands dirty.

“Tiny Datum is something that displays and interacts with a very small number of data points during its existence. Tiny Datum’s data does not have to be stored or shared, its behaviour can be entirely ephemeral and self-fulfilling.” (Shaw, 2017)

In my next post, I’ll be discussing the process of making the bodywork of the instrument/artefact which will be accompanied by a video montage of the process I will start by using an existing guitar body as shown in the picture below as source material.

Thanks for reading!

Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle



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Grey Spaces In Stereo (Demo)

In continuation of my last post, here’s a video of the completed piece.

Exhibit demo, culture lab, 08/12/2017, Newcastle University.

A piece by Ryan C. P. Boyle, Nick Cooke, and Scarlet He.

Photography/programming/organisation & setup by Ryan C. P. Boyle.
(Inc. sketch & box design)

Music by Nick Cooke.

Project assistance, Scarlet He.
(Inc. colour-scheme of boxes).

Thanks for reading.

Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle.

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Grey Spaces in Stereo, Sketch Development.

This post spans a research & development period of 4 weeks. November 7th – November 29th, 2017.

My main role in the development stages of this project, other than taking & providing the photographs, was to write a programming sketch using Processing 3. This was in order to make an ultrasonic sensor (in conjunction with an Arduino), trigger a randomly generated image array, which would be accompanied by 1 of 4 layers (wav’s) of an atmospheric electronic music piece composed by Nick Cooke.

In this post, I’m going to go through the different development stages of the creation of the sensor sketch and give a brief overview of how it was done.

(See development montage video for reference).

To begin with, Nick Cooke provided a very basic image generating sketch as a starting point to build upon, which showed random images of his hand (with the word banana written on it) accompanied by a sampled audio file of a Gwen Stefani song.

(That song nearly drove me insane by the 400th time!).

Stage 1, I altered the content of the image array with some of my own images, (First clip of montage).
Then I moved on to figuring out how to make the sensor function, which evidently was a difficult feat for someone new to coding like me, as a result I sought out Tom Schoefield (The man who knows things).

Stage 2, I was able to source some free example code online, for a timer which generates a boolean, (Second clip of montage).

Stage 3, It became clear that the best thing to do was to combine the simple separate timer sketch into the existing array, I also adjusted the window size to full screen. (Third clip of montage).

Stage 4, As you can see in the third clip, the frame rate was moving way too fast and had to be adjusted. I then imported the sound file from the initial sketch as a guide track because I didn’t yet have the finished music from Nick (Fourth clip of montage).

Stage 5, I needed to conceive of a method of concealing the ultrasonic sensor trigger components in such a way that would make the participants want to interact with them. My line of thinking was to use a “big red button” approach, only without the big red button. I wanted the audience to have a curious urge to trigger the sensors. It occurred to me that a good way to do that was the “hand shaped hole” design. After visiting a local shoe shop I knocked up 4 cardboard prototypes, (Fifth clip of montage).

Stage 6, Quite content with the prototype and functionality of the sketch, it occurred to me that there were some photo resolution issues, so after a brief chat with my colleague Pete Haughie about the problem, I went on to test the sketch on a larger screen which proved to be quite fruitful, as this showed that I needed to rescale the images. (Sixth clip of montage).

After attempting to do online research on how to go about this and coming to a dead end, and after speaking with colleagues such as Klive (the culture lab technician) I took to consulting the processing forum, I then used “The 5 argument method” to resolve the issue.

(EG: – image((images[(int)random(19)]),0, 0, 1280, 800);
This needs to be adjusted accordingly to the native screen resolution of whichever display you happen to be using at the time. Thus allowing for potential use in very large display formats, though we only need them to look good on 40″ screens for the sake of the exhibition on the 5th of December.
(Which I won’t be present at because it’s my wedding day).

Stage 7, After a progress meeting on the 29th of November with my collaborators Nick Cooke and Scarlet He, I was then able to complete the last of the 4 sketches by adding the now composed music provided by Nick Cooke and the remaining selection of my images chosen by myself (Ryan Boyle) and Scarlet He, (Seventh clip of montage).

Stage 8, All that was now left to do was to test the piece in its entirety before the exhibition on the 5th of December, but since I only had access to 2 of the 4 MacBook Pro’s required to run sketches I made do with filming half the piece for the sake of documentation. The sketches will only run on MacBook Pro equivalent spec graphics cards or higher, due to the heavy load of very high-resolution images. Were I to attempt this again I might consider lowering the resolution of the images, but as a photographer, the inclination is to retain the images integrity without compromise.

The only thing left to do now is to exhibit the piece and document the outcome, I’ll be uploading a video in the aftermath.


Thanks for reading.

Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle.

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Strange Faces & the Improbability Box.

As a continuation of my last post, I’ll be speaking about the accompanying project to Sentient Trees, known as Strange Faces & the Improbability box. Strange Faces is a series of portraits in the form of a video loop, focused on the idea of over-exaggerated facial expressions, accompanied by contrasting randomly generated sounds, triggered by a device called the Improbability Box.

Though not demonstrated in this video the Improbability Box was essentially a red box with a button on the top designed to make the participants have the urge to press it. This would subsequently produce a randomly generated mismatched sound in contrast with the current expression to comedic effect.

(See image of the box below!)

Photography & exterior box design by Ryan Boyle.

Sound & internal electronics design by Nick Cooke.

Sample sourcing and project management, Scarlet He.

(Example video will be available at a later date!)

(The missus painted this, she’ll kill me if I don’t say so.)

Thanks for reading!


Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle.

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Sentient Trees.


On the 10th of October 2017, Myself and two of my university colleagues, (Nick Cooke and Scarlet He) formed a collaborative art group, based on our broad creative differences, the idea being that we’d all be able to bring something varied and different to the metaphorical table. It was agreed that I’d focus on the imagery being the only photographer of the group (though I’m also an experienced composer), Nick Cooke would focus on any music and sound and Scarlett would administrate and offer creative input and general project management when required.

We agreed on the concept of a piece which was designed to be played on loop for an exhibition, this would consist of a series of environmentally themed black & white photographs, accompanied by ambient electronic music composed by Nick Cooke, intended to create an other-worldly atmospheric experience. The name derives from my fascination with trees as living things that seemingly give the impression of inanimate objects.

All in all, this project went reasonably smoothly in design and execution. The locations where I shot the photographs were rural & coastal spots in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scarlet took a collection of 60 something photographs and made the choice of which best fitted the concept, compiling the music and images into a video format.

We then presented this and another piece (which I’ll discuss in my next post) to our university colleagues on November the 7th,
which went fairly smoothly, though there was some contention over the use of the term “nature photography”. The argument around the division between the man-made and naturally occurring environments is evidently vague and convoluted, so it’s essentially a huge grey area, which just so happens to be the origin of the name Grey Spaces. This critical commentary was incredibly insightful and vital in developing a larger project called Grey Spaces in Stereo.

I was then given the opportunity to present some of my artworks
at a university social event for the School of Arts and Cultures the following day on 8th of November, which just so happened to be my 26th birthday. I decided with the approval of my project collaborators, that accompanied by Nick Cooke, I would exhibit this piece and one other of mine.
(See smug photo below).

Thanks for reading!

Kind regards,
Ryan C. P. Boyle.

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