G.Hack at Bloomsbury Festival Oct. 22 & 23, 2011

October 19th, 2011

Threads and Yarns: hands-on crafting!

Back in July 2011, G.Hack partnered with Central Saint Martins to provide the interactive component for an interactive installation Threads & Yarns. The installation is a table full of flowers created by CSM textile students and the people they interviewed regarding healthcare. The installation is accompanied by workshops run by CSM.

Threads and Yarns will be part of the Bloomsbury Festival the weekend of October 22 & 23.

It will be at the Brunei Gallery,
SOAS University of London Thornhaugh Street Russell Square

Link to Directions and Maps: http://www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/visit/

Nela’s Chair report – 21 September, 2011

September 22nd, 2011

The summer has flown by so quickly and if you have been around town during August and September you might have spotted the G.Hack troops Ilze, Kavin, Alice, Nic, Sam, Sara and myself armed with audio recorders, headphones, video cameras, iPhones and digital cameras having a cup of tea at some of the 100 favourite London Tea Houses across the 33 London boroughs. It’s all been a part of gathering content for the G.Hack’s new interactive installation, commissioned by MzTEK to be shown at Chi-TEK Tea Party at the V&A, during Digital Design Weekend on Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 September 2011.

The brief was to take a teapot and use technology to modify/hack/enhance it. Somewhere during the brainstorming process we decided to take another route and instead of hacking into a teapot make an interactive tabletop installation that would allow V&A Tea Party visitors to navigate London through its contemporary tea culture. Hence the Sound Mapping London Tea Houses installation was born!

Extensive lists of tea houses across 33 boroughs were complied by our project leader and all around super gal Ilze and having secured initial funding for the built of the installation we went on to figure out what other equipment we might need in order to make it all work. We found out that Antonella made a type of Reactable to do some tangible interaction testing last year, so we asked her to tell us a bit about the technology behind it. Reactable, a tangible modular synthesizer first developed at Music Technology Group (MTG), has set the standards for tangible multi-touch applications. It uses tracking system reacTIVision, which is an open source, cross-platform computer vision framework for tracking of fiducial markers attached onto physical objects, as well as multi-touch finger tracking. As the surface of the first teapot we wanted to use in the installation was smaller than the size of fiducial marker, we instead decided to wire 3 infrared LED’s together to make a trackable ‘blob’. We than bought a georgeous glass teapot and placed the IR LED’s right at the bottom of it. Alice constructed the map of London boroughs in Illustrator, than exported into Processing, which, using a camera with Infrared lens reads the teapot’s position, changes the colour of that borough to RED and sends the message to MaxMsp to play the corresponding tea house soundscape through a pair of external speakers. Simple and fun !!!

So, in the last days before the event Ilze and Kavin worked around the clock to make a miniature teapot to be exhibited at the V&A ahead of the Chi_TEK Tea Party …

Mini Teapot on Display at V&A until November 2011













and edit a short video of how it all works.

Alice got loads of papers into conferences, went on holiday, passed her MPhil/PhD upgrade and is currently at IRCAM getting her head around all sorts of fun audio tools and tinkering with the installation MaxMsp patch between workshops and lectures …

I went out to the english countryside to have a cup of tea and chat with some inspirational tea house owners and together with Ilze visited the Twinings Tea Shop & Museum where lovely Adele Fleming shared with us some wonderful stories about the history of tea drinking in the world and in the UK and showed us how to taste the tea using a big spoon and an even bigger slurp (needless to say, when I demonstrated my newly acquired tea tasting skills in front of my friends and family at the BBQ last weekend, the tea went from the spoon straight onto my shirt – they were very entertained indeed !)

Twinings Tea Museum - Tea is 'out' expect the unexpected !

Tea is ready, get those spoons out to ‘do the slurp’

Twinings Tea Shop & Museum Interview

Nicola had a wonderful time travelling in UK and abroad and upon returning to QM took on a role of sound recordist, editor, carpenter and a model for a few hours so we can take some photos for the exhibition flyer (Doesn’t she look brill in the polka dot tea dress ???)

I have an early start tomorrow (a cup of tea is waiting for me at the Deli Teahouse in Havering) so I must go to bed, but will be back soon with more sound, photos and videos of the whole process and of course the Tea Party at the V&A !!!

Goodnight my G.Hack troops, wherever you are …





Nela’s Chair report – 24 July, 2011

July 24th, 2011

There is no rest for the wicked ! The Threads and Yarns exhibition opened at the V&A on Monday and by Friday the preparation for Chi-TEK exhibition already gathered momentum with emails flying around and G.Hack wiki filling up with ideas on possible design concepts, context and technology.

More info on this in weeks to come but for now let me just say a BIG THANK YOU to Jo Morrison and Rebecca Hoyes from Central Saint Martins for giving us a wonderful opportunity to work on a high profile public engagement project, students from BA textile Design for helping out and teaching us the art of flower-making, V&A staff for making the installing and dismantling of the exhibition go so smoothly and of course, Peter McOwan from Queen Mary University of London for getting the ball rolling in the first place !!!

Last but not least a HUGE THANK YOU to my superb G.Hack team for making it all happen ! GIRLS YOU ROCK !!!

Until the next report I will leave you with a few images from a VERY BUSY weekend indeed !

*photos courtesy of Jo Morrison

Final testing in the workshop

Transporting interactive flowers to V&A

Waiting for V&A passes ...

Waiting for artwork assembly ...

and eating chocolate biscuits to pass the time :-)

Adjusting LED's

Adjusting wiring

Attaching interactive flowers

Cleaning (saw dust and electronics don't go well together!)

Installing the speakers

Connecting the wiring

Yay ! All working beautifully !!!

Nic is in charge of quality control ...

Nanda is ready for a well deserved nap ...

and Alice is ... wondering how we managed to do it all in such a short timeframe !

Installation supergal team: Nicola, Nela, Alice, Nanda and Pollie

The installation night before was super quiet shhhhhhhh

But the opening was super buzzy !!!*

The artwork sparked up some interesting conversations ...*

and was looking, lighting and sounding FANTASTIC !!!*

G.Hack team learning how to make flowers :-)

5.30pm - time to dismantle the artwork ...*

disconnect the wires ...

and pack up (until the exhibition goes on the road later this year!)

The last gals standing (and celebrating with peppermint tea, mango lassie and some strange pine kernel drink - very rock'n'roll indeed !!!)

G.Hack Represents in Threads & Yarns Exhibition @ Victoria & Albert

July 18th, 2011

G.Hack has completed our first collaboration project with an installation in the Threads & Yarns Exhibition at the V&A Museum, July 18th 10am – 5pm. Check it out!

G.Hack worked with Joanna Morrison, Rebecca Hoyes and the Central Saint Martins BA Textile students to develop the interaction component for the installation. The installation is a table of crocheted flowers that were created by Central Saint Martins BA Textile Design students and senior citizens over conversations around biomedical themes. The conversations were recorded and nine soundbites of about 1 minute were chosen to be featured in the installation.

The final installation is a sea of flowers over a table top. Nine of the flowers were matched with the nine sound bites and made interactive. When one of the nine buttons is pushed on the table, an audio soundbite plays and the flower and its button light up for the duration of the audio.

G.Hack edited down and optimized the audio of the nine featured sound bites. Each soundbite is matched with an interactive flower and a momentary push button. There are a total of nine interactive flowers in the installation. These flowers are woven with superbright LEDs. The buttons used had an embeded LED so that the LED could be controlled separately from the button.

Leading up to the installation, we ran a workshop with the Central Saint Martins textile students to introduce them to integratation of physical computing into textiles. The workshop was run in the newly opened MAT Workshop in the basement of the Electronic Engineering Building.

The final result can be experienced  on Monday July 18th at the V&A in the Sackler Center.

G.Hack Threads & Yarns Press:

G.Hack Flower Power Team

Pollie Barden (MAT)/Nela Brown (IMC) – Project Management and Pcomp Support

Alice Clifford (C4DM) – Lead Audio Designer  and  Testing

Nanda Khaorapapong (MAT) – Lead Pcomp and Circuit Board Designer

Nicola Plant (MAT) – Lead Solder and testing

Sam Duffy (MAT) – Audio consulting

Kavin Narasimhan (IMC) – Pcomp support

The project is supported by the Wellcome Trust

Nela’s Chair Report – 13 July, 2011

July 13th, 2011
There’s been a flurry of activity in the MAT workshop in the past few days and Pollie, Nanda, Nicola, Alice and me were joined by Kavin and Ilze in our efforts to get things soldered for the Threads and Yarn (aka ‘flower project’) collaboration with Central Saint Martins ! Brill !
We were further joined by Sara and Becky (just back from NY) for a meet up about CHI-Tek teapot making for V&A (to be installed on the 7th September). We opened up a bottle of bubbly, had some colorful cup-cakes made by our resident cake maker/PComp detective Alice and raised our paper cups to toast G.Hack getting the QMUL Small Grant for Development of Learning and Teaching, Alice winning the British Federation of Women Graduates Scholarship in the form of the M H Joseph prize for academic excellence (awesome or what?!?) Nic and Kavin passing Stage One (Yay!) and Becky starting up a business (Go Becky !).
Still plenty left to do (meeting at CSM to go through all the last minute requirements on Thursday, install on Sunday and opening on Monday) but really excited about it all !!! Some news about our collaboration with Central Saint Martins has already appeared here: http://wellcometrust.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/threads-and-yarns/ and we just received the full programme for 18 July for the Threads and Yarn event at the V&A which looks awesome !
Go G.Hack !!!

Champagne and cup-cake

Nanda teaching Kavin some new tricks :-)

Nic having fun with heat-shrink-wire-wrap-drying

Pollie looking after an 'LED patient' in the 'A&E' corner

Soldered √ LED's tested √ Connections heat-shrunk √ Yay ! Flower 6 is done !

I am helping Nanda sort out a misbehaving perf-board. Bad perf, bad!

Problem solving - G.Hack way !

Wires everywhere - not a problem ...

... 'PComp detective' Alice is on the case !



Prototype Test with Audio/LEDs

June 22nd, 2011

Hi All,

We now have blog and here is the video from this afternoon. We have the audio, buttons and Led’s working.

[QUICKTIME http://ghack.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/videos/flower_prototype__22_6_11.mov 640 480]

After the video, Nic and Pollie added one additional LEDs to 2 of the arrays. So we are able to run 9 LEDs off one pin o the Arduino.