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Category Archives: Art

This is an excerpt from a dream (possibly a nightmare) I had last night.

What if we added a citywide chromakey feature to Limerick City. Chromakey is commonly known as green-screen or blue-screen, a technique widely used by photographers and moviemakers to modify a scene, mixing real and virtual (make-uppy) visuals. We could paint every ugly and derelict building with the selected colour; ugly-looking people, cats, dogs, cars, etc., would be ordered to be dressed or painted with the same colour. Then, the likes of RTE can superimpose whatever virtual landscape they want to support their message when making programs about Limerick. On a good day, we may add some visuals form Limerick 2030 (when the whole place is converted to a large shopping mall along the river Shannon, with a few rich and beautiful people strolling along). On a bad day, add some visuals from some battle zone or shot’m-up game. Or we can have virtual graffiti. Or just leave the undesired stuff blank.

That would leave room for re-branding.

I was delighted to follow the developments today in Limerick, culminating in the resignation of the CEO from Limerick City of Culture 2014. One down, a few more to go, before there may be a possibility to build a board and a structure that can actually see a successful year of City of Culture through. A proper board only needs one bean counter. I doesn’t need any Gombeen-men (or women). It needs people who are experienced culture workers, with roots in Limerick and with a global outlook.

A good working board should be able to multiply the State contribution of €6 million, raising funds from other sources, if the successful delivery so requires. A real board should be transparent, making a year-long experience of high impact possible.

It was a public meeting, following the resignations of the artistic director of Limerick City of Culture 2014, Karl Wallace and two of his co-workers.

Many of us at the meeting requested that the board of Limerick City of Culture 2014 take their responsibility and step down, or at least, that the CEO steps down. Over the past few days, all the bad headlines in media have been caused by the Board – not the culture workers or people of Limerick.

The honest questions from culture workers and members of the public were met with political platitudes, such as Pat Cox’s statement that Karl Wallace’s resignation “was only a bump in the road”. Cox also claimed that the board, altruistically, “works for free”. I think we need to see the full accounts and ledgers of Limerick National City of Culture 2014 Ltd if we were to believe that statement. From where are the €120,000 coming, to pay the CEO?

Limerick National City Of Culture 2014 Ltd (Company Registration Number: 533149) was set up on Tuesday the 24th of September 2013 in Limerick. The company’s current directors Conn Murray and Tom Gilligan have been the directors of 16 other Irish companies between them, 2 of which are now closed.

With the year 2013 now a closed chapter, here’s a short reflection….

Highlight

The highlight of the year, without any doubt, was the performance of Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees) at Glenstal Abbey. It was the happiest moment. All events leading up to that moment were also very enjoyable, and sometimes scary. It wasn’t until the day before the performance I felt confident that the eminent monks would actually perform the choral part of the score (many thanks to Wolodymyr Smishkewych for making it happen). The rehearsal with the ICO in their studio was pure magic. Something happens when a score is moved from my imagination, through the computers, to the paper, to the musicians, and they play it. The Softday Apiary Ensemble also turned out to be a real buzz, and I hope the friendships that developed over all our workshops will remain and continue to develop in some future project. Jenny Kravis readings filled the space between the sonic elements, like beeswax between cells in a honeycomb – it made all the parts stick together in its final structure. It was also amazing to work with our friends Dave Carugo, Lette and Keith Moloney and Bob Corrigan who formed a professional audio, video and photograph team documenting the performance.

SotB

The feeling that washed over me at the end of the performance made me think that THIS I have to remember and THIS is the way I would like to feel more often.

Summer

When it eventually got started, the Irish summer was beautiful. I reworked my herbal garden and we had several pleasant evenings with BBQ and watching the sun set in the west.

bbq

Then, we went for a holiday break in Sweden to visit friends and relatives, which turned into a medical and emotional frenzy with elderly parents in different hospitals.

Migration

Moving the Interaction Design Centre, from Engineering Research Building back to the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. This was not an easy move, as we didn’t want to move.

Engineering Research Building

Engineering Research Building

CSIS building

CSIS building

We lost some high-quality space and we gained some. We’re building a new design lab in the CSIS building. In the CSIS building, the heating is insufficient during winter months. My office gets to a maximum of 15 degrees C with its only radiator turned on. I know, from having spent years in the building before, that in summer it will be too hot. Apart from the lack of climate control, corridors are very narrow and we are more isolated from our research students, not by distance but by the structure of the space.

Economy

The recession continues. From my perspective the cost of living in Ireland is increasingly expensive while net salaries continue to fall. The politicians and their mates are getting top-up payments, while the rest of us are getting cuts. The only way to survive the political Fine Gael + Labour propaganda is through positive disengagement.

protest(from Softday‘s Silent Protest)

Today, while running around the UL campus for final year project demonstrations, the light fantastic stopped me in the stairwell. Last year, I saw it the 6th of March. Seeing a full spectrum slowly moving across a floor or a wall, and trying to figure out where the perfect angles and refractory indices are (in this case a window in the UL’s Engineering Research Building) still fascinates me.

light fantastic rainbow spectrum

Let’s hope the sunshine continues and that spring eventually decides to stay.

Bees…

Can you live without this?

What if you wake up one morning and this isn’t here?

Will you have any honey for your porridge?

In fact, will you have any porridge, at all?

Bee colonies around the world are in decline, due to a number of mitigating factors.

Perhaps we can listen to the bees in a new way….

We’re concerned.

Very concerned…

Over the past 13 years, I have had the pleasure to work together with Sean Taylor under our common name Softday. It all started when Sean asked me if it was possible to make music form a year’s collection of weather maps from the Irish Times, which in due time resulted in Bliain le Baisteach (A Year with Rain). This was an excellent starter project for our collaboration as it was well funded and went straight to prominence as it became part of the Irish Pavilion at the Expo2000 World Millennium Exhibition in Hanover in Germany. Since then, our Softday collaboration have resulted in numerous projects (check out our web site www.softday.ie ) and we are now working on a new and very exciting topic: the life, and potential death, of honey bees. At the time of writing this we have about two years of research done, with plenty of field recordings from honey farms and nature, photos, video, scribbles and sketches. We are now heading for the final realization of the project and the premier is set to the 27th of April 2013, starting at 15:00, in Glenstal Abbey, in Murroe, Co. Limerick in Ireland.
While we have managed to get all our projects over the past 13 years funded, one way or another, this time we’re exploring what has become known crowd-funding, in addition to the great support we have received from Create and the Irish Arts Council. Perhaps, as a friend suggested today, we should call it hive funding, as our current project is about honey bees. Please note that if you support us, we give you something back.

Here’s a link to our Call for support on fundit.ie.

Beside one of my working-at-home locations, there’s an off-white wall over a fireplace. On a sunny day (not too many of them this spring!), between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, the sunlight is refracted in a window in front of me, painting a very slowly moving pattern on the wall beside me.

As a graphic, it looks almost organic as it’s fading like breathing when small, light clouds pass the sun. The pattern moves, ever so slowly, along the wall and then suddenly disappears when the optical alignment is beyond whatever special condition that was there for a while disappears.

For another day, I might try to make sound from this…

More observations of light can be found here.

A first sketch of a new custom controller.

  • Sliders fading up and down
  • Knobs for turning
  • Cranks for turning
  • Buttons for activation – perhaps with aftertouch (force sensitive)
  • Switches for turning things on or off.
  • Wheels for turning
  • Squishy things for squeezing

USB i/o, perhaps using OSC protocol.

Build in a flight case.

controller sketch

Friday evening, we went to see the Old Irish Radio Show at The Loft @ The Locke. It was an interesting and entertaining take on how radio used to be in Ireland. Great venue!

Saturday started with 3Dcamp at UL with a number of interesting talks and demos.

I had to leave during the afternoon for a while as the Limerick School of Art and Design opened their end-of-year show.

I only had time to see about half of the exhibition and will have to get back there again during the coming week.

After this, back to UL for Prof. William O’Connor‘s highly stimulating talk about “Is the Internet changing your brain?”.

During the Sounding Object project, we researched and developed new approaches for sound on computers, responsive to physical interaction and easily matched to physical objects. One of the demos was the Vodhran, a virtual Irish Bodhran drum. The performers gestures are tracked using a Polhemus Fastrak 6-DOF electromagnetic tracker in realtime and the sound synthesized in real-time by our sound object models.


This summer, I’m planning to make another version of this, probably the Hodhran – a Hyper-bodhran, using a real bodhran, parts of a Wii controller, an Arduino and a few sensors (such as force sensitive resistors and bend sensors).