Sean Clark's Unofficial Phoenix Digital Arts Blog

I am a digital artist, a researcher, the director of web/mobile developer Cuttlefish. This is my unofficial blog about The Digital Arts Programme at Phoenix in Leicester. I am not employed by Phoenix and all opinions expressed are my own.

Displaying 11 to 20 of 35

Tue, 16 Jul 2013
Digital Kite Flying
Digital Kite Flying

There is a nice exhibition on at Phoenix at the moment that lets you go digital kite flying. The idea is that you first visit the web site at digitalkites.indiansummer.org.uk and design your kite. Then you visit the Cube Gallery at Phoenix and use the installation to "fly" your creation. The installation uses a Microsoft Kinect to track your movements in a way that is quite effective at simulating the act of kite flying. As you look over and Indian city skyline tugging on the kite's line every now and then the whole effect is rather relaxing.

I really liked the work, but think it needs a bit more refinement to really make it work well. I enjoyed the kite flying part, but found that the mechanism for selecting the kite designs a bit clunky. It involved using a computer keyboard - which to me is a no-no in an interactive artwork like this. I think some sort of gesture or touch interface would be better. Perhaps the ability to do the kite design on your mobile device would be nice too.

These are by no means major criticisms and I would encourage people to create a kite and go and fly it at the Phoenix. The exhibition runs until the 20th July, so you still have a few days to go. See my pictures of the work on Flickr.

Wed, 12 Jun 2013
Paul Brown Talk Video and PDFs
Paul Brown Talk Video and PDFs

Paul Brown gave a very interesting talk last night a Phoenix in Leicester. He spoke about the background and history of his creative practice and presented some of his latest work - both as an individual artist and in collaboration with his son, Daniel Brown.

One of the things that particularly interests me about Paul's work (and other digital arts pioneers, such as Ernest Edmonds) is that there is a clear creative focus running through his (their) work. In a world of constant 'newness', this is a very important quality. Paul presented some of his ideas from as far back as the 1960s and you can see a direct connection to his work today. I think many contemporary digital artists (including me) can learn from this. Unless your work is about technology (which can be a lazy position to take, and certainly a difficult thing to do well) your ideas should be strong enough to shine through, no matter what technology you use. In fact, if you expect your work to have any long-term relevance this has to be the case.

The talk was over an hour long and was full of insights. A video can be found on the CAS Leicester web page together with some of Paul's recent writings in PDF form. I hope to host some more talks in the autumn. Monitor this blog for further details.

Mon, 20 May 2013
Paul Brown Talk @ Phoenix 11th June 2013
Paul Brown Talk @ Phoenix 11th June 2013

Phoenix Leicester will be playing host to pioneering Digital Artist Paul Brown on the 11th June. He will be giving a talk as part of the Computer Arts Society speaker series from 6:30pm. Entry will be free but you may want to book a place in advance via the Phoenix Box Office.

https://www.facebook.com/events/263015140508722/

Paul Brown is an artist and writer who has specialised in art, science & technology since the late-1960s and in computational & generative art since the mid 1970s. His early work included creating large-scale lighting works for musicians and performance groups like Meredith Monk, Music Electronica Viva, Pink Floyd, etc… and he has an international exhibition record that includes the creation of both permanent and temporary public artworks dating from the late 1960s. He has participated in shows at major venues like the TATE, Victoria & Albert and ICA in the UK; the Adelaide Festival; ARCO in Spain, the Substation in Singapore and the Venice Biennale and his work is represented in public, corporate and private collections in Australia, Asia, Europe, Russia and the USA. Since 2005 he has been honorary visiting professor and artist-in-residence at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Sussex.

"During my 40-year career as an artist my principal concern has been the systematic exploration of surface. Since 1974 my main tool has been the computational and generative process. My work is based in a field of computational science called Cellular Automata or CAs. These are simple systems that can propagate themselves over time. CAs are part of the origins of the discipline known as Artificial Life or A-life. In this presentation I will describe my 45-year engagement with computational processing and also discuss the work of my son Daniel Brown, who is also a generative artist and our creative partnership Brown and Son."

http://www.paul-brown.com
http://www.danielbrowns.com
http://www.brown-and-son.com

Fri, 12 Apr 2013
Extinction Event by Dave Griffiths
Extinction Event by Dave Griffiths

Extinction Event by Dave Griffiths opened at Phoenix in Leicester last night. The exhibition features a video and microfiche/microfilm works from the artist's Babel Fiche project in the Cube Gallery and film (quite literally) and video materials in the Cafe Bar.

The Babel Fiche video is the centrepiece of the exhibition and imagines a future world where the only surviving information about our present time is in the form of analogue data and images on microfiche. The video is accompanied by the actual microfiche slides that were used by the protagonists in the video. You can explore these using a collection of original microfiche readers.

The film is a powerful piece of work and asks questions about the permanence of our information-rich, but largely digital, age. I have personally wondered if future historians might see the twentieth century as the start of a new 'dark age'. One in which historical records are rare - not in this case because of the fall of the Western Roman Empire - but because the digital records that were kept are not longer readable with future technology, or have simply decayed beyond use.

The other work on display continues the 'film' theme. With looping clips of 'cue dots' from old movies running on the matrix screen (that provide an alternative take on the history of cinema) and film frames on the Cafe Bar window that must be viewed through a magnifying class.

The exhibition runs up until 24th May and is definitely worth visiting. My pictures from the show can be found on my Flickr page as per usual.

Sun, 24 Mar 2013
Code Control at Phoenix Leicester
Code Control at Phoenix Leicester

This weekend saw the Code Control Max/MSP users' conference at Phoenix in Leicester. The well-attended event involved talks, workshops, demos and three newly commissioned digital artworks.

it was a pretty packed programme and while I wasn't able to catch it all, a number of things jumped out at me and I made sure I got to see them. The first was the talk on Saturday by Sam Tarakajian from Cycling'74 about a new Max technology called Mira. this provides a really elegant way of getting Max interfaces on to your iPad. Basically, it allows you to draw a box around a group of Max interface objects in your Max patch to instantly display them on a wirelessly connected iPad, or iPads. It also provided a toolset for reading data from the iPad's sensors. The technology looks deceptively simple, but the implications of this technology for installation artists and performers are huge. Max now understands your multiscreen world and can benefit from all of the subtleties of multitouch UIs.

Then on Sunday I attended Henrique Matthaus' talk on Javascript in Max. I had been aware that Max 6 had JavaScript support through the "js" object, but the true power of this only became apparent to me during Henrique's talk. i already use JavaScript to write iPhone and Android apps using Appcelerator Titanium, as well as using it to create interactive web interfaces, but with JavaScript in Max I now have a tool for writing code in one language that can be reused across all of the platforms I work with. Henrique also introduced node.js - a technology for communication between JavaScript installations using web sockets. By adding this to the mix I will be able to add create multi-device artworks that can exchange information seamlessly. I'll be investigating how I can use this to enhance works such as Dropsketch and ColourNet.

The three new digital artworks were also very good. In the cafe bar area Nick Rothwell showed his multiuser

In the cube Stavros Didakis showed a highly interactive audiovisual mixer with projected images and - apparently - EEG aka mind control. I didn't manage to get this going through! In Cinema 3 Gavin Morris showed a large installation in which 512 coloured cubes could be touched to create music sequences. The work could also be controlled by an iPad. In the cafe bar area Nick Rothwell showed is multiplayer game/artwork in which the users manipulated cubes in order to find their opponents and shoot them. It was a full on adrenaline rush, with spacial sound adding to the sense of immersion.

I was in involved in the "science fair" where I demoed the latest version of ColourNet - make in collaboration with Ernest Edmonds - as I get it ready for exhibition at CHI in Paris at the end of April.

I didn't get to attend any of the workshops, by reports are that these were very good too. You can find out more about the event (and future plans at some point) on the Code Control website. My pictures from the event are on my Flickr page.

Fri, 01 Mar 2013
Sally Sheinman - What Makes You, You?
Sally Sheinman - What Makes You, You?

Sally Sheinman's exhibition "What Makes You, You?" opens at Phoenix today. I had a quick peek during the set-up and it looks very interesting. I haven't quite got my head fully around it (it's not complex, but I think there is more to it than meets the eye!), but I like the look of the iPad-created images and the nature of the on-line participation. I'm going to get involved and will be submitting my thoughts as the project develops. Perhaps Sally with use my contribution as the inspiration for an image? You can find out more about it on the Phoenix site, or go direct to the wmyy.co.uk website.

Sun, 10 Feb 2013
Code Control at Phoenix
Code Control at Phoenix

The latest technology workshop and performance event at Phoenix has been confirmed for 22nd - 24th March this year. "Code Control" builds on last year's Max6 event in January and the Ableton Live event in the Autumn and follows a similar format. The focus is Cycling 74's Max, MSP and Jitter software and will feature a world-class set of presentations, as well as workshops, demonstrations and evening performances. If you want to know more about Max then the event is unmissable. See code-control.com for more information.

Thu, 31 Jan 2013
Sebastian Buerkner Exhibition
Sebastian Buerkner Exhibition

I went to see Sebastian Buerkner's 3D film "The Chimera of M" in the Cube at the Phoenix in Leicester yesterday. It finished its run today, so I just managed to get to it in time. To view the film you first had to put on some 3D glasses and then you were encouraged to sit on a bench in the gallery about 2m from the screen.

Often 3D is used to present what is essentially a 2D film, but with the illusion of depth. It adds to the spectacle of the film but does not add anything fundamentally new to the creative work. This work was somewhat different. Buerkner uses the technology to create genuinely 3D animations that can not be appreciated without the glasses on. Shards of light emanate from the screen, interacting with the subject matter, shifting your perspective and creating an effect that reminded me of early cubist painting. This was matched by a fractured narrative that further draws you in to the work.

I decided to get up from the bench and see if the 3D effect still worked up close to the screen. It did, and by moving around in front of the screen you get an extra opportunity to explore the imagery.

Sebastian's web site is at www.sebastianbuerkner.com. I took some pictures, but, of course, they don't show the 3D effect. If you get an opportunity to see any of his work in the future I'd recommend taking it.

Fri, 07 Dec 2012
Symbiotic Finished!
Symbiotic Finished!

My "Symbiotic" exhibition with Genetic Moo at Phoenix has come to an end. It ran for just over two weeks and seems to have gone down well.

In many ways this show embodied the three years of research I have done on my PhD. The key idea in the show - that digital artworks can be made to interact with each other as well as the human visitors - is one of the main themes of my research.

All I now need to do is analyse all of the data I captured during the show and demonstrate that this happened during the Symbiotic exhibition and that it was a worthwhile thing to do from an audience perspective!

I took many pictures during the exhibition and did a walkthrough - filmed by Steve Friendship - in which I discuss the works. These materials can be found on my project page at http://www.seanclark.me.uk/symbiotic.html.

Genetic Moo have also documented the show at http://www.geneticmoo.com/symbiotic.php.

Tue, 20 Nov 2012
Symbiotic Opening at Phoenix
Symbiotic Opening at Phoenix

"Symbiotic" - my new exhibition with Genetic Moo - opened at Phoenix last night.

The exhibition features artworks by Genetic Moo and myself that are designed to interact with each other as well as their audience. It represents the culmination of three years of my PhD research and introduces my concept of "Digital Art Ecologies". I will be writing more about this soon.

The show runs until 4th December in the Phoenix Cube space. Entry is free. If you are interested in helping with my research by completing some evaluation forms please get in touch.

Pictures from the opening plus background information about the artworks on display can be found here.

Displaying 11 to 20 of 35