The new pad…

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So here I am, in my new position at UEA – Media Learning Technologist – and I’m in charge of the new media provision over in the Music Building, currently only partially finished, but with a lot of changes happening over the summer.

This is what the spaces are now and I’ve got a lot of cataloguing and recycling to get on with before it’s completely remodelled, but it’s a hacker heaven with the older tech that we have accumulated…

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The Strode room, which will not be changing but the Balcony will be filled in.PANO_20160408_110329

Current Radio/Recording roomPANO_20160420_161415

So this is the TV studioTV Studio

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The ZigguratsUEA_ext1

The CETL front office, check out the gorgeous meeting table!26296973856_a89585ac92_k

Creative Coding Week 1 & 2 #creativecoding

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Future eLearn have some fantastic free online courses, MOOC’s and I have been immersing myself in their creative coding one at every opportunity. Although I’m a couple of weeks behind the latest modules, because I can take it and learn at any time, I’ll catch up, or just finish at my own pace, therein lies the beauty and flexibility of the concept!

Use computer programming as a creative discipline to generate sounds, images, animations and more, with this free online course.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/creative-coding

Coding

In the first two weeks I have made my name in a lovely little interactive drawing canvas, see above, and we have been introduced to great interactive and digital artists using processing and creative code within their art.

I am hoping that I can spot a link between these kind of basic interactions and my own interactive sculpture, or artworks, as I still want people to interact and not be passive within galleries or museums.

Daniel Rozin, particularly interests me and one of his latest works is fascinating to watch…

List from the course of artists and designers and researchers in interaction design.

Interactive Code & Art #creativecoding

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In all of the projects that I have undertaken, my coding knowledge has helped me through, my past knowledge of creative and fluid CSS design, javascript and flash variables and being able to dissect html and plugins. My biggest struggle was with Max MSP  https://cycling74.com/ as it was a totally new language and as usual I was trying to do something with it that had never been done before, (link to my research on Max pages) but my determination drove me to hack, tweak and cheat it so I got my desired result.

With my leap motion testing it also needs a specific language to start to develop your own content, and in the past I have used what comes in with whatever software has been recommended, so wanted to look at programming from a different perspective, can it in it’s purest form create art, create interaction and how easy is that?

I found the video below and it covers a wide variety of coding for visualisation, cinder, processing, the rgbd toolkit (which uses a kinect to make amazing video effects) and shows the very powerful way artists could harness code, but I don’t want to just ‘code’ and have virtual art and or sculptures, I want to make it more interactive and perhaps physical, could it be plugged into live reactive projects? How easy is it to translate this into a physical object, through 3D printing, manipulation and processing.

Can you use a leap motion, an AR experience, an oculus rift to help generate the code, and it be wireless?

I’m going to systematically look through the beginnings of this type of code and see if I can apply it to my kind of art…

The text below comes directly from PBS Off Book

Programming plays a huge role in the world that surrounds us, and though its uses are often purely functional, there is a growing community of artists who use the language of code as their medium. Their work includes everything from computer generated art to elaborate interactive installations, all with the goal of expanding our sense of what is possible with digital tools. To simplify the coding process, several platforms and libraries have been assembled to allow coders to cut through the nitty-gritty of programming and focus on the creative aspects of the project. These platforms all share a strong open source philosophy that encourages growth and experimentation, creating a rich community of artists that share their strategies and work with unprecedented openness.

Wearable Tech #wearables

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I am loving the new years reports about wearable tech, as an early adopter – did you see my last post! – it’s great to see the wide choices that are being brought out onto the market.

In this BBC  video round up http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30693142 they even have wearables for dogs… not a bad idea considering how concerning it can be to lose your dog in the dark… but can they get one for my children when they are in the playgroud and I’ve looked away for a second!

Joking apart I have seen a lot of the activity trackers, Jawbone’s up range, the fit bit, the vivofit, smartwear and smartbands aplenty, but I’ll hold out for something that is a watch and a tracker, of these there aren’t many, even my beloved Sony smartwatch doesn’t do the activity tracking, you’d need to buy another piece of Sony for that.

Why can’t my tracker have a watch, or my watch have a tracker… I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year.

And it will come…

Leap Motion, a first look

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There are a few different ways to use gesture to control, rather than a physical button pressing controller.

The Leap Motion is a lovely little device, and promises much.

 

 

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

Leap Motion next to a pen so you can see the size

Leap Motion next to a pen so you can see the size

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

I wanted to see if it could deliver it’s claim of a new way of interacting with the world.

The first thing after unboxing was to have a play in the recently updated Leap Motion playground with some of the v2 apps.

As you can see from the video it’s amazing when it works, how intuitively it takes your hand movements and interpret them into a 3D space, when you can pick up and play with virtual objects.

The Leap Motion getting started zone

The Leap Motion getting started zone

But almost as soon as I’m out of the ‘playground’ area I stumble over the recurring problem of coding the damn thing, not even that, I have to choose my language… Where’s the helpful button that says, don’t know which coding environment to use because it scares you witless? Click here and we’ll help .

I have no idea which development environment I’m going to be able to manage with, but I am always willing to have a look if I get a bit of help.

This is quite a common theme to trying to make art interactive, the code behind the technology is almost prohibitive and I know from experience that you can go so far down the complex track of coding, only to discover that actually, it would have been better to do it a different way, in a different code environment, but not being a coder this is tricky. I envy the guys at Aparna Rao as they have tech guys who turn their ideas into reality by looking after the backend, whilst they create…

But back to the Leap, I have to dive into the code, so I plump for the Javascript option, hoping that my small amount of flash scripting might help.

to be continued…

 

How not to place a pressure mat! fringe foul-up

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The undercroft is a great place to put my interactive sculpture, but I knew I needed to replace my pressure mat as it had seemed quite worn out and unresponsive after my MA show, so I duly ordered a new one and feeling pleased I’d been organised put it in place and was gratified to see it work much more smoothly.

But on Monday night when I was rewiring my sound – it had only been playing in mono, but it hadn’t affected it too much in the echoey space – I noticed the new mat was not functioning properly, in fact I pretty much needed to jump on it to make it trigger the animation

As I wondered what on earth had happened I noticed a small tear in the cover and placing my hand over it discovered a sharp protrusion underneath, I looked under the cover in case a stone had got in, no, then I lifted the pressure mat to find this!wpid-dsc_0075.jpgBlimey…

no wonder the mat was being unresponsive this bit of piling that they would have used to reinforce the concrete had stabbed all the way through the mat and out of the cover as well…sheesh… so much for being organised and ordering a lovely new pressure sensor for the Norwich Fringe!

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look what it did!

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and out the other side…

What a proverbial pain in the rear end…

It’s so disappointing, but this is why I want to look at more gesture based control, I know that can still go wrong, but the physical mat doesn’t take to being used like this very well.

I ordered yet another mat from maplin which arrived this morning, so was able to install it for todays exhibition, it’s so pleasing when it works.

When I met up with Andy Logie the other day, we talked about the possibility of that type of control using a kinect, Andy seemed to think this was a possibility, but we both agreed that the technical coding side of these things just drove us potty!

Digital Revolution and the V&A

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Digital Revolution at the Barbican until 14th September

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I had desperately wanted to get down to London to see this Digital show, but with deadlines short this was the only date available, with College Workshops shut on a Friday the only thing left for me to do was the writing and visit this show, so with 4 hours on the train to concentrate on my critical evaluation I thought it was a perfect opportunity to marry the two.

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The exhibition is broken up into sections.

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Although it was fascinating to see all of the old technology I had hoped for more from this section, I recognised quite a few games and consoles, such as an old spectrum and the cream coloured macs with floppy disk drive, it wasn’t much of a revolution.

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

The We Create section was more what I was expecting, you could submit your art in the Johnny Cash Project and interact with robotic birds made from recycled phones, by contacting them on an old dial phone.

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The information about inception and gravity was interesting, but the way they presented and you could access the behind the scenes layers of Inception was of more interest to me, they looked to be using leapmotion…. A wonderful little device which can track five fingers of movement in 3D space. Really fluid transition though the layers on information, very responsive and made it very easy to jump in and use.

wpid-dsc_0179.jpgwpid-dsc_0177.jpgUsing the leap motion to scroll through the layers used in the making of Inception.

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

The will.i.am project was ok, it was just a platform with fancy animatronics to control the individually designed pyramid instruments and the cleverest part was the use of the inverted shape to give the illusion that his eyes and face were following you around the room, but it’s a very old trick.

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Chris Milk’s ‘State of play’ is a really impressive interactive art piece, this is exactly what I expected from the digital revolution show – and it looked spectacular, the movement was fluid and although it all happens quite quickly, you really get engaged with your shadow and what happens to it in the three stages. Very reactive and fully immersive in the massive space.

Dev art was full of more quirky pieces, I wasn’t sure if I was contributing to the art there or not for some of the pieces, but the keyboard radio was quite fascinating.

Dev Art area

Dev Art area

Digital futures included lady gagas dress and a skirt you could put pregenerated led light images onto (iMiniskirt).

Again the indie games section was interesting but not what I’d call innovative.

Mimaforms petting zoo

Mimaforms petting zoo

The mimaforms petting zoo was only disappointing because I didn’t see a single person successfully interact with them, they looked cool though.

Umbrellium

Umbrellium

Umbrellium was a trance experience in a smoky underbelly space and felt like being at the end of a quiet rave, when viewed through the plexiglass window whilst we had our pep talk, it looked like a zombie movie, people entranced by the light moving slowly about with their arms outraised to the light.

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

The Laser feast tree installation was a work on an immense scale, it looked amazing and gently moving through the ‘trees’ giving each trunk a good push make pleasing tones and I really enjoyed watching the laser lights on the roof dance about alongside their relaxing notes.

Overall I was slightly disappointed with The Barbican show, but on the other hand very interested to see that my peer Andy Logies art and sound piece, would fit straight in, and with a few tweaks, so would mine.

Andy had his Forum exhibition on Thursday and it was brilliant, it worked wel, looked fantastic on the enormous screens they have in the Fusion screen at the Forum, and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with his piece.

Andy Logie's piece 'bound'

Andy Logie’s piece ‘bound’

Although it made me think a little more about mine, would my piece be as engaging, it’s a very quick shot – firing  the flight animation – will it hold the viewer for more than a moment, how do I get across the meaning behind it… ie, this is what AR could do for you, and you already have the device in your pocket!

The V&A palindrome sign

The V&A palindrome sign

I managed to squeeze in a quick dash to the V & A, to see their interactive tables….

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

The V & A furniture collection have introduced touch screens with information beside the object, but they are just so dry, very similar to the screens at Norwich Museum, even though they are right by the object, they feel strangely disconnected and are uninteresting to click on.

wpid-dsc_0128.jpgThe materials interactive tables are also disappointing… although you have the added interest of tactility with the object itself, they have samples of the different materials scattered around the tables edge, the content that comes up is just like a page from the internet and again it’s a very dry way of interacting.

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

The way that it functions is also slightly awkward as you need to hold your hand over the little hole that they have in each different piece of wood or metal sample, and if you remove your hand before it’s loaded it can stall and disappear, conversely if you do want to read the other pages, hovering over the object for their pre-determined amount of time feels like an eternity to wait. I would like to have seen the first page come up much quicker and then be able to control the speed and which page I am viewing with the more intuitive hand swipes and gesture that we are used to using.

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

It’s a very large area for not much happening.

Rapid Response Collectiona st the V&A

Rapid Response Collection at the V&A

However the rapid response collecting area which I stumbled upon was a really pleasant surprise.

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“The museum collected the objects in this gallery in direct response to important moments in the recent history of design and manufacturing”

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

An eclectic collection of a dozen objects, one of which included the app ‘flappy bird’ and a wearable terminal, they had an oculus rift headset.

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Great to see such an established Museum making a collection out of news headline tech or social changes.

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects is one of the featured shows within the V&A currently and it was interesting to see this very politically motivated exhibition on one side of the beautiful reception area, and just opposite were the beautiful statues in a grand space.

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3D Binocular Augmented Reality Viewer… done #augmentedreality #AR #aurasma

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Remember these?

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The central divider which turned them into a 3D viewer was a sticking point for them to view Augmented Reality, so I had to try and find a way to remove it without breaking the rest of the plastic surround.

I was very disappointed to realise that the plastic that they had used was in fact very strong, so a craft knife wasn’t even going to make a dent in the rigid structure.

I went down into the 3D workshop to see what tools they might have that could be of use… I thought that a curved hacksaw blade might do the trick, but it just wouldn’t work as you would have no room with which to draw the blade back and forth  any useful distance…

I then asked if they had any heavyduty ‘snips’ I remember using tin snips in previous making ventures and them cutting tin well… Luckily Jim did have a pair of snips, although he didn’t think they would get through the thick plastic.

He gave it a go and they went through the plastic easier than he thought they would! Brilliant.. I sat down to do it and found it really wasn’t as easy as Jim made it look, my feeble little hands struggled making the snips cut any sort of distance, so I resorted to taking tiny little nibbles out of the middle divider.

This was still really hard and also meant of course it took 3 times as long, about a hour and a half to get down the full length of the binoculars – and the blisters on my fingers will attest to this!

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Eventually, I reached a point where you couldn’t see anything left of the divider when looking through the eyepieces, so then turned to a large handled rasp to file away all of the little ragged edges.
wpid-dsc_0039.jpgPop in your ipod and hey presto AR Binoculars!

These will be used in my installation to demo my Augmented Reality booklet content and postcards.

I will be preloading the ipod with my own Aurasma channel – tracey tutt – so that all of my printed materials come to life when viewed through the AR Binoculars.

The idea behind making them binoculars comes from a desire to introduce devices to view content in a soft way, ie rather than have an obvious iphone or android smart phone sat in front of you, which could confuse frighten or just irritate the viewer I wanted it to be simple, pick it up in a tactile form – binoculars – and simply do the natural thing with the object, look through the eyepieces.

 

 

Augmented Reality Binoculars

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An innovative way of getting people to pick up a device to play with the interactivity that Augmented Reality can offer is one of the key things that I wanted to desperately try and include in my installation.

Inspiration came in the form of the digital loupe that I have previously talked about, and after a lot of searching Hasbro has a 3D ipod binocular device, that is perfect for my needs.

Ordered direct from the USA, it arrived today!

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It has several fittings for different iterations of iPhone, or ipod touch, and so has a camera hole already in the right place for the version I have.

But, as it’s supposed to be for 3D viewing there is a partition directly down the centre of the whole object, this is the only stumbling block.

Hopefully a hacksaw will sort that out!

I have tested it with a trigger image and all works well, you even have thumbholes with which to double tap to make the Augmented content full screen.

A quick camo paint job, and bob’s your uncle.

I will need to ask estates about securing the device, but it can be charged in situ so I am really pleased.

MAX MSP essential to know and useful tutorials #MAXMSP

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Starting to use MAX msp and feeling very out of my depth. For the past 5 days I have been struggling to get through the tutorials and having major problems with getting any sort of video to play back, even using the tutorial patchers didn’t work. I just kept getting the error message imovie countdown.mov: error opening file whatever I tried. I downloaded MAX onto another machine, just in case it was the machine. no. Then I scoured the internet for different tutorials, thinking maybe it had a bug in the tutorial… no… Finally this morning, typing in ‘imovie dozer.mov: error opening file’ MAX msp’  into google and I get a result

movie playback in 64 bit version of Max is limited for the time being.
the 32 bit version does not have these limitations, and is recommended for users interested in quicktime functionality.
http://cycling74.com/forums/topic/vizzie-playr-imovie-error-opening-file-jit-qt-movie-doesnt-understand/

64bt is not compatible with the video playback.. how frustrating why doesn’t it say that on the download page…

by the way before you download if you want to do video DON’T DOWNLOAD THE 64 BIT!

Uninstall, reinstall (on one machine anyway) and presto bingo, working as it should be…

Cycling74 Max/MSP/Jitter Tutorials: Play a Movie

 

The very basics

http://alhodgsonn.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/maxmsp/

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