Sean Clark's Blog
Leicester Hackspace has found a new home. Having started life meeting at Interact Labs, before moving to it's own room at The Makers Yard, it now has three rooms at The Innovation Centre at De Montfort University.
While its sad to see Leicester Hackspace leave the Cultural Quarter, the new space is a definite move up and I'm sure it will help the Hackspace get even more members and expand even further.
The gallery version of 'Flown', a digital light sculpture by Esther Rolinson and myself, has been put on the long list for the Lumen Prize. It's been included in the "3D/Sculpture Award" category, the results of which will be announced on the 29th September 2016 at Hackney House in London. The piece has clearly gone down well, having one the Art.CHI'16 award earlier in the year. There will also be an opportunity to vote for it in the "Peoples' Choice" award category from the 10th August via the Lumen Prize website.
Going to San Jose for the the Art.CHI exhibition was something of a treat. However, attending CHI was not the only thing I did while I was over there. Earlier in the year, whilst planning for The Art of Crass exhibition, I'd discovered that Dave King - the designer of the Crass symbol - lived just up the road in San Francisco and I had arranged a meeting.
The Crass symbol is an amazing piece of design. Dave produced it almost 40 years ago for Penny Rimbaud's Reality Asylum book and it was then used by the band Crass as their "logo" throughout their career. Effectively it is a stylised snake wrapped around a cross, but the symbol has many interpretations. Some people see a double ouroboros (snake eating its tail), maybe a sign of the "system" destroying itself, or even a swastika (or perhaps anti-swastika). It has graced leather jackets, t-shirts, been used as tattoos, appeared as graffiti and so on, to such an extent that some people no longer even associated it just with Crass - it is simply a timeless anti-authoritarian symbol.
Meeting up with Dave was a pleasure. We got to talk about the symbol and its use, as well as his other work as a musician, designer and artist and how he might contribute to The Art of Crass exhibition. He said was happy to contribute some of the images from his book/exhibition The Secret Origins of the Crass Symbol and, true to his word, sent over some prints soon after we met.
We also had an other idea - to produce an illuminated crass symbol that would use the LED and micro-controller technology that I use in my own artworks.
Together with the prints, Dave also included a stencil to use in an illuminated work. I took this, framed it and backed it with a LED matrix and programmed it to cycle through a colour sequence. The result was very effective. It was particularly good in the context of the print variations of the symbol and the greater exhibition.
You can see a picture of the work here.
I was lucky enough to have two artworks accepted for the Art.CHI 2016 Exhibition in San Jose in May this year. Both pieces were collaborations. The first, "Tango Apart" with Ernest Edmonds and the second, "Flown" with Esther Rolinson. Esther's piece was a fairly complex install so, of course, I had to attend in person!
The exhibition took place at the Works Gallery, just around the corner from the main ACM CHI'16 conference in the San Jose Convention Centre. It was a great space - easy to get to and just the right amount of light for a digital art exhibition.
I was familiar with some of the work that was going to be on display, but it wasn't until I got the see the work installed that I realised how diverse the exhibition was. The curators had selected works that explored many different forms of interactivity. Some fast and immediate, others slower and more thoughtful. For example, one artwork responded to being hit with an inflatable hammer, one responded to the viewers heart rate and Flown responded to subtle changes to light and temperature in gallery environment.
Against this backdrop it was particularly rewarding that Flown was awarded the "best in show" for the exhibition. This was a nice surprise, especially since we didn't know that there was going to be such an award when we installed the artwork.
I documented the exhibition quite well. My gallery of over one hundred pictures can be found here on Flickr. I have also put an exhibition walkthrough up on YouTube. See the Art.CHI website for information about all of the artworks in the exhibition.
The video of Ruth Gibson's Computer Arts Society talk at Phoenix in Leicester on 13th April 2016 is now available. This will be of particular interest to people who follow Virtual Reality art. You'll find the talk on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/166949759.
At the beginning of the year I began to use the name "Interact Digital Arts" as a focal point for all of my arts activities. As part of this "rebrand" I have now pulled my personal seanclark.me.uk website in to the fold, as well as the long running nemeton.com.
You'll see that both sites now share the Interact Digital Arts look-and-feel and all three sites now share a common navigation. The update also gave me an opportunity to improve the "responsiveness" of both sites so that they should now work fine on phones and tablets. It should ensure that both sites remain to be accessible and appear in search engines.
It would be easy to think that maintaining a collection of websites like mine is a simple thing to do. After all, the older sites don't change very often. However, in almost 23 years of web design I have found that this is far from the case. Web technologies change, as does browsing hardware and software, and links and plugins stop working.
I think that in the long term this is going to be a real problem. I actively maintain my archive, but it is relatively small and I'm still about to look after it. What will happen to all of those 1990s and 2000s sites that were created before web technology really settled down and made use of highly non-standard technologies? Many will become increasingly unusable and even archives such as the UK Web Archive will struggle to render them. It's something to think about if you want your websites to last.
I also wonder if future archaeologists will need to be experts in early Internet and web technologies as much as language and digging skills. In fact, perhaps "Internet Archeologists" even exist now?
Running from the 1st until 18th June 2016, Fight War Not Wars: The Art of Crass will be a unique exhibition of artwork from members of the anarcho-punk band Crass. Putting the show together is a real labour of love for me, I've been a long-time fan of the band and most of the items being exhibited are from my own collection. As well as the exhibition at LCB Depot's Lightbox, there will also be some live events and an all-day D.I.Y arts festival See http://theartofcrass.uk for the latest news.
It's been a busy weekend with two great events taking place in the Leicester.
The first, on Friday, was the third annual "Image Is The Servant" music/multimedia event organised by Honest Dave. The year's event was subtitled "Playful" and took place at The Venue at DeMontfort University.
The event featured multiple musical contributions with live visuals and assorted other attractions. As with the previous two events, most of the vial material was gathered during the event and projected on and around the performance area. Unlike the previous two, the new location provided space for interesting angled screens to be hung across the hall, making for a an even richer visual spectacle.
Then, on Saturday, Rich Myoptik held his "Leap Year Jamboree" at The Font. A full house was treated to music and arts from numerous Leicester artists. Opening at 1pm and going on until 1am it was a truly marathon event (one which I, admittedly, did not complete).
My contributions to both events were the various drawing machines I have been working on over the past six months. They went down well at both events and engaged lots of people!
Weekends like this really bring out the best of the creative aspects of Leicester. Real diversity of people, music, arts and interests coming together to make great things happen.
At the end of last year I was lucky enough to be awarded an Arts Council England grant to enable me to further develop my "digital art systems" artworks. The grant will allow me to develop a new collection of artworks and then exhibit them towards the end of 2016. I hope to have two exhibitions - the first in Leicester in December 2016 and the second in London in early 2017.
The artworks are concerned with ideas relating to flow, connectedness and self-organisation and will take the form of dynamic computer-based images, interactive lights, audio pieces and responsive video.
I am putting all of these elements together to form what I am calling a "Cybernetic Ecology" - a term borrowed by Richard Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace". I expect to start showing some of the new pieces in the summer and will start posting some images here before to long.
The Silent Signal exhibition opened on Friday at QUAD in Derby. It featured six animated films that were created by six pairs of artists and scientists who have been working together to create new work about and inspired by their mutual interests. Topics covered included Sleeplessness, the spread of malaria in monkey populations and the immune system.
It nakes for a very interesting exhibition. There is a wide range of animation styles and the presentation of the exhibition - with the films being shown in multiple rooms and locations - works really well. The background information in the supplied literature (and on the website) was also very useful in adding a full context for the work.
The exhibition runs until the 6th March, and will be going on tour after. The full list of participants in the project is boredomresearch and Dr Paddy Brock, Samantha Moore and Dr Serge Mostowy, Ellie Land and Professor Peter Oliver, Charlie Tweed and Dr Darren Logan, Genetic Moo and Dr Neil Dufton and Eric Schockmel and Dr Megan MacLeod.
My pictures from the show are here on Flickr.