Sean Clark's Blog

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Sun, 20 Jan 2019
In The Dark @ The Cello Factory

Over the last week I've spent quite a bit of time in London at the In the Dark exhibition at the Cello Factory in London. The exhibition was curated by the arts group Genetic Moo and supported by The London Group and the Computer Arts Society. Genetic Moo's aim for the exhibition was to literally hold the exhibition 'in the dark', with the only light in the gallery coming from the artworks themselves.

My contribution to the show was a network of connected artworks in the form of screen-based and light works. The five individual pieces connected to each other via WiFi and exchanged colours as they ran. I gave a short talk about the work and found that there was quite a bit of interest.

A set of pictures from the exhibition can be found on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/seancuttlefish/albums/72157677885498078

With a video walkthrough on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABNS9d2GJWE

Sat, 12 Jan 2019
Lots of Lights - "LOL"

Last year I was asked to produce a lighting display for the main cafe window at the LCB Depot in Leicester to be installed throughout December. After working through a number of ideas I settled on something that I call Lots of Lights, or "LOL". LOL consists of 20 internet-connected micro-controllers, each connected to a string of 50 bright LED lights. The resulting 1,000 LEDs can be made to play patterns, such as fades and chases, via an associated web application.

The lights were installed in the LCB cafe window to coincide with the Interact'18 exhibition and remained live for around six weeks.

As well as being an interesting work in its own right, the installation allowed me to test my latest artThings lighting technology. The controller I used for each light string contained a small device called a Wemos D1 - something I use quite a bit in my "connected" artworks. The D1 is small and cheap (as low as £1.50 each if you buy from China) and can be combined with a voltage regulator to create a small unit that can power and control the 50 LED "Neopixels" I often use.

While I knew this technology worked in the studio, what I didn't know for sure was how it would perform when used in large numbers and for a long period of time. A previous experiment had shown me that not all WiFi routers let 20 devices connect to their WiFi network at the same time. I now use a TP-Link AC750 that can support up to 64 simultaneous devices (32 on each band). But would there be any additional problems?

The initial installation went well. The lights were bright and the web app controller worked perfectly - simply scan a QR code and the controller would pop up on the user's mobile phone and they could trigger patterns. However, after a couple of days some of the LED strings would reset. Problems like this can be hard to diagnose and it took many days to get to the root of the problem. It turned out that the Adafruit Neopixel and Adafruit MQTT software libraries I was using did not like working together. After a couple of days they would cause the micro-controller to run out of memory and crash, leading to a device reset.

I found that by using a different lighting software library - in this case FastLED rather than Neopixel - this problem went away and the micro-controllers would run for weeks without any problems. Luckily I only had to update the software on the D1s (albeit 20 of them) and not change the hardware. However, it did remind me the importance of testing your code when installing a project like this. What works in the studio may not work the same way in a live environment.

Pictures of LOL, plus the workshop held on Saturday 12th January can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/seancuttlefish/albums/72157705953639835. Please contact me if you want to know more about the project.

Thu, 20 Dec 2018
Interact'18 Exhibition

The Interact'18 exhibition took place between 7th and 21st December 2018 at the LCB Depot Lightbox gallery. The exhibition featured work by digital artists associated with Leicester - James Chantry, Andrew Johnston, Thierry Miquel, Joe Moran, Ernest Edmonds, Fabrizio Poltonieri, Anoushka Goodwin, Leila Houston, Michele Witthaus & Paul Rudman, Yi Ji, Alice Tuppen-Corps, Dave Everitt & Fania Raczinski, Peter Flint, Askokkumar Mistry and myself.

The aims of the exhibition were, first, show the wide range of digital artwork produced in the city and, second, to introduce artists who may not have met before to each other. Leicester is a relatively small city, but it surprising how often I find people working in similar ways who have not met before. I think it achieved both of these goals.

The online catalogue for the exhibition can be found at: http://interactdigitalarts.uk/interact18

Pictures from the event can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/seancuttlefish/albums/72157704389674814

An output from the exhibition is the Leicester Digital Artists Facebook group that will be promoting further opportunities for Leicester digital artists to show their work.

Sat, 01 Dec 2018
East Meets West: Innovation Connections

I've finally completed the documentation for the East Meets West: Innovation connections exhibition that I co-curated in Guangzhou, China in November 2018. The updated web page contains information about the artworks shown together with a PDF of the exhibition catalogue and pictures of the workshops and the exhibition itself.

http://interactdigitalarts.uk/innovationconnections

Mon, 22 Oct 2018
CAS50 Exhibition Catalogue

The catalogue for the Computer Arts Society 50th anniversary exhibition is now available for order from the Interact Digital Arts shop. The catalogue includes information about the artworks in the exhibition, together with pictures of the Leicester and Brighton showings.

This is Interact's first "official" publication with an ISBN code. We think it looks great and we will be producing more catalogues and similar publications over the coming year if the self-publishing model works.

If you can, please support us by purchasing one of the limited edition print copies. The PDF will be made available for free download at some point in the future.

Purchase from here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/616573763/cas50-exhibition-catalogue.

Sun, 23 Sep 2018
CAS50 Exhibition in Brighton

Between the 13th and 23rd September 2018 the Computer Arts Society's CAS50 Exhibition was on display at Phoenix in Brighton. The opening of the exhibition took place on the Thursday night at the same time as the Lumen Prize exhibition in the same venue, and both were part of the launch of the annual Brighton Digital Festival. It was a very well-attended launch, with lots of people expressing interest in the combination of historical work on show as part of CAS50 and the contemporary work in the Lumen show.

Amongst the earliest work on display in the CAS50 show was a collection of computer printouts from Roger Saunders, who began studying in Brighton almost exactly 50 years ago this month. His work, plus all the others in the show, can bee seen on the CAS50 website at http://www.computer-arts-society.com/cas50.

The CAS50 collection is still growing and we have a number of possible exhibitions lined-up for 2019. Keep an eye on the Computer Arts Society Facebook Group for the latest news. Pictures from the previous exhibitions can also be seen on the CAS50 website.

Mon, 02 Jul 2018
27 Exhibition @ Gallery Without Walls

My latest collection of computer generated artworks, called "27", was premiered at the LCB Depot as part of the Gallery Without Walls project on Saturday. This represents the coming together of two projects.

Firstly, the exhibition itself is the completion of a work cycle that started with two works that were part of the Resonance exhibition with Esther Rolinson in Leicester last December, then became part of the East Meets West exhibition in Guangzhou, China in April and is now a stand-alone exhibition in its own right.

27 is based around my self-organising visual systems. The main building blocks of the piece are groups of three connected grids that grow together by exchanging colours and sorting them according to pre-defined rules. After the grids have been running for a while I capture an image and then combine the images to form larger images. These larger images are then arranged according to additional rules.

The result is a system of patterns-within-patterns where the "parts" make "wholes" that then become parts in larger wholes and so on. In the case of this exhibition nine locations around Leicester each have three images, which are each composed of three connected grids, which are each composed of 25 colours.

The locations selected to show the work are part of Gallery Without Walls. This is a project I've been working on with Graff.io Arts for over a year now. We have been building a network of venues around Leicester where we can show artists' work as part of "distributed exhibitions". 27 is the third show we've put together, hence my exhibition is also known as GWW03.

It's great when two projects meet like this. It's also very satisfying for me to complete this creative project in this way. Graff.io Arts are expert printers and the work looks excellent. It will be popping up at the various venues around Leicester shortly.

For more information visit http://gallerywithoutwalls.uk/gww03.

The work will be on display until the end of August, when GWW04 will take over. More details on this to follow.

Sun, 27 May 2018
Pixel Art Workshop

Today I ran a PixelArt workshop as part of the Spark Festival at Phoenix in Leicester. The main purpose of the workshop was to have some fun, but it is also part of a project I have been working on. The idea is to create a system for creating and exchanging 16 x 16 pixel images via an app and have them displayed on LED panels. You can see the results of todays workshop here, but also keep an eye out for future developments.

Fri, 25 May 2018
CAS50 Exhibition Opening

Wednesday night was the opening of the CAS50: Fifty Years of the Computer Arts Society exhibition at the LCB Lightbox Gallery in Leicester. The exhibition features work by 12 internationally recognised computer artists who have been associated with the society over the years.

Eight of the exhibitors attended the exhibition, together with many other CAS members and interested people. The Guest of Honour was George Mallen, one of the three original founders of the Computer Arts Society in 1968.

The exhibition is on until the 15th June. Opening times can be found on the exhibition web site at http://interactdigitalarts.uk/cas50. Photographs from the opening can be found on Flickr here.

For more information about the Computer Arts Society visit http://computer-arts-society.com/.

Mon, 23 Apr 2018
Creative Connections Exhibition in China

Tonight is the opening of the Creative Connections: East meets West exhibition at Guangdong University in southern China. It represents the first major public output of my activities at the University since I began teaching at GDUT in April 2017.

The exhibition takes place at the 729 Art Cafe on the Dongfeng Road campus of GDUT in Guangzhou. It features work by artists from De Montfort University in Leicester, UK with further contributions from artists and designers from Guangzhou. Importantly, it also has work by some of the students involved in my teaching.

Working in China can be a bit confusing and chaotic at times. But I have found it ultimately very rewarding. I think that this exhibition illustrates this. The work from both the UK and Chinese sides is of high-quality and I think bringing it together will ultimately lead to new collaborations between the exhibitors.

See the exhibition web page (http://interactdigitalarts.uk/creativeconnections) for more details, the exhibition catalogue and photographs.

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