Friday, 29 July 2016

Art Shows and Art Tells

"Bound to" - the "breathing" robotic sculptures I helped create for artist Halina Dominska were finally installed and shown at BCU back in June. After a few long days we successfully got the 5 silicone robotic skins, hung and naturally breathing in and out. Ultrasonic sensors we're used to detect distance and motion, and as audience members approached the skins came to life and started to breathe. Each object was controlled with an Arduino Nano that ran a mechanised motor attached to an internal armature to create the effect.

Halina's desire to make the fleshy objects approachable and friendly really worked but also encouraged some audience members to get a bit too close during the shows duration and the fragile innards were knocked around a fair bit by people grabbing, stroking, hugging, pinching and touching them.

During the install we were dogged by a few technical, practical and aesthetic issues related to the works placement which was hung high up in a corner, by a window, in a busy room, but she's planning to re-install the piece at some point and work through some the issues, so keep a look out for that.

Other students in the show had some pretty amazing artwork on display too - in particular I liked a video of a girl tied to a chair walking through a swamp to a tree, which seemed part performance art, part music video, and some of the psychedelic sculptures and other surreal artwork was great.

I've continued with a stream of popular kid's electronic workshops mainly using Crumble kits. These have taken place at BOM, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Baskerville School for autistic children, at The Studio for Talent Match Birmingham and Solihull with 2 weeks of Space themed Summer Camps taking place at BOM in mid-August. Summer Camp is looking like it's going to be amazing this year with myself and Amy Martin from FAMALAM (who recently did this inspiring TED Talk) pulling out all the stops to immerse youngsters in a craft and gadget filled 5 day journey to the moon. Adam from FizzPop is going to loan us some space junk to decorate with too and kindly introduced me to Tim Milward from Backface who was able to turn me into a full 3D avatar! Check this out!

Other great stuff coming from BOM residents includes a breath responsive generative video installation being worked on by Robin Price (check out his hilarious URL for this blog) and a theatrical-tech collaboration Agent in a Box from Katie Day from The Other Way Works and multiplayer/touchscreen games programmer Jon Sear which seems to involve some sort of real world spy hotel adventure.

I've also been asked recently to do a number of talks and presentations including one yesterday at Eastside Projects alongside a wealth of other Birmingham artists and curators including Ruth Claxton and Stuart Whipps from whom it was a real pleasure to hear some backstory of how they have developed their practice in the arts. Thanks to Joanne Masding who invited me along and also recently had a solo show in Leicester at the 2 Queens gallery.

I got to talk a bit about the development of PHLUMX, the years I spent VJing and as entrepreneur, the fun had in the Jazz Metal and Hardcore bands Jazz Thrash Assassin and Meatfeast and about all the cool projects done as Psicon Lab.

Other speakers at the event included Vanessa Boni, Matt Foster, Anneka French, Andrew Gillespie, Sam Jones, Antonio Roberts, Sarah Taylor Silverwood and Emily Warner.

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