Last month I was asked to write a guest post for the Independent Cinema Office blog after taking part in their Creative Digital Marketing Course which ran from September 2012 – February 2013. We were asked to undertake a project which found a new way to engage audiences by using digital marketing in a new way. I chose to develop a project for Discovery Film Festival 2012 which mixed online and annalogue engagement using postcards – you can read all about my experiences here:
Mini Maker Faire is coming to Edinburgh this April! The event is being run by Edinburgh International Science Festival and applications are now open for people to take part.
If you make awesome stuff this is a great opportunity to show off your work and meet other people excited about making things. A couple of years ago my beloved and I showed some work at the Maker Faire in California (check out the awesome picture!).
I thought I would write short post to give an update on what I have been up to over the last few weeks. This August I have been putting aside my own projects to be part of Speed of Light, a public art performance piece where hundreds of runners wearing light suits run a choreographed route on Arthurs Seat for this years Edinburgh International Festival.
I went to my first rehearsal in August last year, and I am now working on the project as a Wheelchair Athlete Leader, setting pace and leading choreography for wheelchair athletes taking part in the event, and as a Reserve Run Leader who is ready to take the place of anyone who is injured (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!). Working on the project has been fantastic so far, I have met some amazing people and had some great fun. Not to mention the fact that it has provided a new focus to my own fitness and training.
Tomorrow will be the first time that a performance is seen by a full-blown audience and I am sure that lots of people will have lots of things to say about it. Before the reviews are filed and the pictures are tweeted I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed being part of the process. Sometimes it has been hard, we have had to work on choreography in the dark, often in difficult weather conditions but ultimately it has been incredibily rewarding.
Its hard for me to tell if it has any artistic value – I have never watched a full rehearsal, although I have run in plenty, and even if I had I don’t have the distance to be able to judge if it is any good or not. But I have never felt more inspired about my running, or met a more interesting and diverse group of people working together to achieve one goal. On those terms the project is an amazing success and I am proud to be a part of it.
Continuing the theme of updating this blog after a short absence, here is a post on the Applause Dress, which I created way back in February (you remember February don’t you!) with Jacob Birge at the Stitch Lounge.
The concept behind this piece is something that I had been thinking about for a while after discovering videos of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music on YouTube, a bit like this one:
I wanted to create something that would respond to the sounds being made by the performers and I kept coming back to an advert I remembered seeing as a child.
It wasn’t actually this advert, but you get the idea. This had been going round in my head for a while and I decided to test the idea out at the February installment of the Stitch Lounge because it offered the perfect opportunity to create a working prototype in a short space of time.
For this edition I worked with the incredibly talented Jacob Birge who was also enthusiastic to take on the clap-switch challenge.
The third edition of the Stitch Lounge was themed around pattern and we incorporated this idea as much as possible into our design creating a dress consisted of a series of contrasting panels.
For me this was an exciting prospect because often fashion which incorporates technology is minimalist and futuristic in its aesthetic and this can be a little constrictive. I was excited to see how a dress, which incorporated technology and piece which had a vibrant yet feminine design, would work.
As this was a prototype to be created in 48hrs I kept the circuit simple, using a clapping switch kit I brought online. It was easy to put together and simple to modify into a soft circuit. Here is a short video of me testing the extended version of the circuit, you can see the circuit more clearly in the first video here.
I made this the evening before the Stitch Lounge and from there on it was simple to sew it into the dresses’ removable lining. We decided to use green lights rather than the classic “wearable technology white LED” again as a way of playing with colour and shape.
The results worked perfectly and on the catwalk and was a joy to wear.
Here are some pictures of the dress with the lights lit, although the results are much better in low light levels.
I’m now working on the next stage of this project to turn it into a performance piece so watch this space…
Thanks to Carrie and Mark for organising another fantastic event and to Chrisdonia for use of his amazing pictures.
Last weekend saw the first ever StitchLab, the latest and greatest evolution of the Stitchlounge. This time, as part of Edinburgh International Science Festival, pairs of artists and designers were asked to collaborate on a project to present a finished piece in only 36hrs. As the event was part of the Science Festival the pieces had to be inspired by discussions with a selection of scientists and technologists.
Last week You Be the Voyeur finally came to Edinburgh with a performance in the International Film Festival. Working with dancer Jen Farmer, the piece was shown at Inspace as part of an Upgrade! event which looked at work that explored fashion and technology.
Previous performances have taken place in small constricted spaces (from transit vans to cubby holes!) where light from small torches held by the audience generated sound from the performers clothing. At Inspace the situation was rather different, with pristine white walls and a reflective white floor the space is a veritable temple to digital art, but its size made the intimacy of previous performances difficult to replicate.
One option was just to use the opportunity to demonstrate the work in a straight forward talk, but I’ve always felt that talking about a performance can never be compared to actually experiencing it. It’s all very well telling people how to embed a synthesizer in a hidden inseam pocket but that doesn’t tell you what the sweat of the dancer smells like when she brushes past you whilst torch light flickers in your eyes. So instead I tried to use the restrictions of the space to create an experience which demonstrated the possibilities of the work whilst staying true to the concept.
Whilst a large space allows for a bigger audience it quickly became apparent that torch beams would get lost in the gloom and anyone who was not standing right at the front would lose the immediacy of cause and effect when their torch hits the dress. Instead we created pools of white light projected onto the floor, into which the marvelous Jen moved. This allowed the audience to still see how light effected sound and therefore motion and create a different but still intriguing lighting scenario.
I’ve posted some photos of the rehearsal with Jen testing the light to see what shapes and movements work best and you can also see me lurking the background. There should be some video and pictures of the final performance soon! In the meantime a big thank you to everyone involved in the event, particularly Mark Daniels from New Media Scotland, and Kirsten Geekie from Edinburgh International Film Festival. It’s so fantastic to have people like Mark and Kirsten who have the courage to bring new work to audiences.
Right now I am getting ready to bring a performance You be the Voyeur to Edinburgh this Summer. It’s scheduled to take place at Inspace as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on the 23 June. Today I am looking at how the piece needs to be modified to fit a different space and audience. In the meantime here is a video of our last performance which I finally found the time to edit. More information coming soon…!
Last week dancer Anna Gander and I made the journey up to Dundee for the second performance of You be the Voyeur at Digital Natives. For this I created a new version of the piece which came much closer to creating the electronic peep-show I had originally envisaged.
This time we showed it in a small enclosed space (at the Hannah Maclure Centre) into which the audience could wander in and out. Again we worked with the room testing its limitations with the dancer’s movements bouncing off the walls, ceiling and floor.
You be the Voyeur is a self generating piece of work which lives or dies by audience interaction. The sound cannot be generated without more than one audience member present to shine a light on the dancer. This work is truly interactive: you literally create and are part of what is played out.
Luckily the audience at Digital Natives was a combination of adventurous and highly engaged individuals. The atmosphere was electric and as Anna moved, and the jagged sounds reverberated in the space, it felt as though every surface was being coated with 0s and 1s. The air was sticky with binary interplay.
The resulting performance was both intense and enjoyable. My favourite moment was when I overheard someone say to their friends “this feels really wrong” before getting really involved in interacting with the dancer.
Another bonus was that several members of the audience were very tech-literate. Lots of people came to speak to me afterwards and I had some really interesting conversations about the project, how it worked and where it could go next.
I took lots of video which I will be posting in the next few days but here are some pictures to give you an idea. Finally a big thank you to Anna Gander, who was amazing throughout the whole process and whose movement was inspired, and to Clare Brennan who expertly organized the whole event.
This month saw the first staging of ‘You be the voyeur’, an interactive performance piece which combines dance with wearable technology. It was premiered at NEoN Festival in Dundee.
The performance takes place in a small dark space – in this case the back of a Ford Transit van. Each person is given a torch to find their own way in the darkness. When their beams of light discover a figure in the shadows the interaction of light on her dress creates synthesised sound. What follows is an improvised piece where movement, audience interaction and generative sound work together to create a one off performance. We were only able to video one of the rehearsals but this gives some idea of the experience.
Now I am looking at ways to developing this project further with future performances in the new year. The dress is a functioning prototype which was made for less than £40. I’ll add some pictures and information on how exactly it came together in a later post. Now that I know the concept works I plan to modify the dress to give a cleaner aesthetic.
‘You be the voyeur’ wouldn’t have come together without lots of help: Clare Monte the dancer was amazing at working with my ideas and new technology to create some fantastic results; Yann Seznec created the synths and gave me some invaluable technical guidance; Noiseclub for filming the work and moral support on the night; and finally thank you to Donna Holford-Lovell and Clare Brennan at NEoN who were very supportive and gave me the space to show the piece.