All posts by jg

C is for Collaboration

Speaking at the recent Plugin Symposium hosted by Signals Media of Colchester, has given me a reason to reflect upon my own creative practice and in particular my urge to investigate the collaborative potential of digital art.

Professional self-reflection is a great activity, particularly when enhanced by the perspective of time: not just a little so that events are still fresh and perhaps too recent to view holistically, but neither too much so that memory is impinged upon by the distance of age! Of course, regular self-reflection is often portrayed as the saviour of creative professionals but ocassional, yet timely, self-reflection is certainly better than none!

Recently, in reflecting upon my own practice, I began by reclaiming the personal manifesto of seeking to create artistic works that are public, participatory and playful – the 3 p’s I set out to explore and draw connections between but a few years ago. I realised that my developing interest in collaborative art can essentially be articulated by a series of questions and corresponding creative responses.

Question: “How do I construct interactive experiences that are a pleasure to interact with and encourage co-interaction?”

Creative Response: Luminescence

Question: “How can I provoke emergent behaviour whereby multiple participants, who may never meet normally, compete or collaborate through the medium of an interactive art work?”

Creative Response: Play Table

Question: “How can I design playful, collaborative interactive experiences that have a positive impact?”

Creative Response: Portals for Mortals

For the sake of a more meaningful presentation at Plugin – I tried to pull together some of the elements that have shown themselves to be of special importance in the process of creating collaborative digital art. So here they are in slightly jumbled form, I hope they may be of some  use to you, dear reader…
T is for Technology.

There is a seemingly insatiable appetite for new tech. It’s like a magnet that draws people in… so lets use it to do just that. Like the pathological urge to open Pandora’s Box. As an artist, one must position one’s box of tricks strategically with the metaphorical lid slighty ajar…

P is for the Phenomenon of Play.

Play is a magic circle entirely of our own making. Rules can be made, rules can be broken. Transgressions can be made in perfect safety. The willingness to participate is all it takes…therefore the invitation to play is of particular importance.

F is for Facilitation.

An Artist often plays the role of Facilitator. Collaborative digital art in itself is a facilitation. Some people very much like to be shown what to do – helping them understand how to get involved is an important aspect of facilitation. In certain situations, participants exiting an art experience themselves can become ambassadors to the next group of participants. Facilitation can go viral!

D is for Design.

If Art is about asking questions and opening up possibilities… design in the service of art solves problems and brings the art to life. From tech to user experience, there are many dimensions of design. It is an iterative process and can always be improved – so improve it!

A is for Audience.

Who is the collaborative experience aimed at? If its ‘aimed at everyone’ – that’s a tough call to get right, reword: that’s impossible! By figuring out who collaborative experiences are for, we can make them better, just the same as for any other service or product design – know thy user!

C is for Collaboration.

A truly multi-faceted word. Generally a force for good within the arts. But let’s consider what we mean by it when we use the word. For me it implies creating something new or finding new ways of working together where agency and creativity are bounced around the court of collective imagination. It can be question and response, it can synchronised, multilateral creativity. Whatever form it takes, collaboration can produce amazing results is to be recommended.

R is for Risk

Perhaps a certain amount of risk is inherent in collaboration and maybe that’s why it might feel unsafe and uncertain at times. It won’t work everytime either! One thing is for sure: the best creativity does not occur within a nice padded comfort zone!

 

 

Plug In Symposium

Pleased to be sharing experiences and insights at the forthcoming Plug In Symposium, hosted by Signals Media, Colchester. Also very pleased to be sharing a platform with some great names 😉

Here’s how my talk is billed:

Collaborative Interaction: How Playful Technology Can Be Used To Mediate The Space In Between Us

Jamie Gledhill
Digital Artist and Computer Sciences lecturer, Norwich University of the Arts

East Anglia-based artist and educator, Jamie Gledhill, will present and discuss elements of his digital arts practice including interactive installations and public art commissions. A recurring theme is the design of experiences that create connections between friends and strangers alike through the medium of technology-enabled play. Jamie will share the knowledge he has developed in this area and how this might be applied in wider contexts.

More here: http://www.signals.org.uk/event/plug-in-symposium/

New Job

I am very pleased to announce that I have been appointed as Lecturer: BSc Computer Sciences at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) where I shall be delivering the new Games Development, Interaction Design and User Experience Design BSc degree programmes. This is an exciting opportunity for me to draw upon many years’ experience working within both arts and commercial environments, producing a broad range digital outcomes. I expect to be rather busy in my first year getting up to speed as a teacher, but am sure the journey will be both positive and interesting. So, there may be less of my own creative activities to post about in the short term, but in the mid-long term I hope to remedy that! Watch this space….

Creative science

Tree Face

A test projection onto a conveniently located tree, hot off the press, so to speak. I’ve been meaning to do this for some time and have at last found the time. I’m pleased with the result which has already generated positive feedback and interest.

Virtualisation of Place

I’m currently investigating the ‘virtualisation of place’ – using 360° photography as a basis to create immersive, atmospheric panoramic scenes which might ultimately contain narrative and interactive elements. My first, rather tentative step, is the creation of a fairy glade. As good a starting point as any when it comes to mixing reality with fantasy!

Hi-res 360° image:

Stolen Art

Originally published on Facebook last year:

Missing the Missing Art

Sadly, a small number of sculptures have been stolen from the Harlow public art collection over the years, thankfully none recently. For most people it’s not a case of missing something that has been taken away but rather never knowing works that should still be available for all to enjoy. The stolen sculptures are listed on the Sculpture Trail pages of www.visitharlow.com which is a good way to promote awareness of them. They are:

Boy Eating Apple, anon, 1930s, bronze cast
Lion, Antoine-Louis Barye, circa 1833, bronze cast
Self Encounter and Sower, anonymous, 1960, bronze

One can only imagine where they have ended up, perhaps in some criminal hideout along with other stolen art works? In any case, they are truly missed.

360° image:

Gibberd Virtual Residency 360° Videos

The following three 360° videos represent the final creative outcome of my virtual residency at the Gibberd Gallery, Harlow, which ran from September to December 2016. I was asked to ‘reframe’ the town’s post-war art collections in the context of the new town legacy. I was particularly interested in attitudes towards the town’s sculptures, being highly visible symbols of Harlow’s unique heritage.

Study #1

Locations of the nine most popular Harlow sculptures, as captured by Amanda Westbury in 2012, are juxtaposed with monumental renderings of key economic statistics published by the Office for National Statistics. Original footage was shot over a two hour period from the top of Terminus House, the joint tallest building in Harlow.

Study #2

Ryan Karolak talks about growing up in Harlow, the new town design legacy and recalls the sculpture Solo Flight when it was located at the Harvey Centre.

Study #3

Imagining the sculpture ‘Screen’ by Gerda Rubinstein as a tower which can be climbed up, one floor at a time. Commentary by Jenny Lushington.

Fun at firstsite, the birth of ‘Ricochet’?

As part of the recent Young Art Kommunity (YAK) takeover of contemporary art venue firstsite, Colchester, I installed the work previously known as ‘play table’ at the BYOB (bring your own beamer) event hosted last Friday evening (the 29th of October). Rather than project from above onto a table, in sync with a Kinect camera used to track movement, I chose to present an iPad as the means of interaction, using ‘blob tracking’ sent over a network via UDP. Participants touched and swiped the iPad while looking at the results on screen. Many participants, not all young, got carried away with the intercation and nearly broke the iPad mount!

This approach made set-up much quicker, allowing me to rig in just about an hour. It also fundamentally changed the mechanics of interaction, allowing one person or possibly two people comfortable with sharing an iPad, to interact more finely with the piece rather than several people more bluntly, as with the table approach. I’m still considering the implications but essentially I’m keen to push the project further in this direction with a view to mounting multiple iPads to allow several participants to play together simultaneoulsy, as was possible with the previous version. Of course, not being projected onto a table rather invalidates the project name ‘play table’ so I have come up with the new name of ‘Ricochet’ which reflects the dynamic of the piece more accurately in any case. Watch this space!

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360° Video of Dawn at Mersea Stone

I’ve been experimenting with 360° image and video for the last month or so using Unity to compose 3D environments for export as stills and the Ricoh Theta camera to create timelapse. Here’s a 90 minute sequence of stills taken at daybreak from the Eastern most point of Mersea Island, Essex, condensed into just under 1 minute of 360° video. I can’t vouch for the other videos YouTube will cue up once 360° Dawn has finished!

Favourite Forms and Lesser Known Treasures

Harlow is certainly blessed with many amazing sculptures. Even a brief shopping trip around the town centre will bring you into close proximity with works produced by some of the world’s best known sculptors such as Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin.

Not living in the town, but getting to know it better over the course of my virtual residency at the Gibberd Gallery, I have come to appreciate that there is a deep connection between Harlow citizen and Harlow sculpture. Judging from the number of comments I’ve read and heard recently, many people feel a tangible affinity to one or more works, be it through everyday observation or childhood memory. Perhaps there are also subconscious connections for those who look but don’t necessarily see the many fine sculptural forms located around the town.

An article published on the BBC Essex website suggests that “Harlow’s sculpture collection has become as much part of the social history and human geography of the town as its housing, public buildings and open spaces.”

Back in 2012, artist Amanda Westbury encouraged Harlow residents to vote for their favourite sculptures which then featured in her work “The Glass Bead”, currently displayed on the ground floor of the Civic Centre. At that time the top nine were:

  1. Family Group (Henry Moore) Civic Centre
  2. Donkey (Willi Soukop) Pittmans Field
  3. Solo Flight (Antanas Brazdys) First Avenue
  4. Energise (Clare Bigger) Leisurezone Carpark
  5. Pisces (Jeff Watkins) Water Gardens, Town Park
  6. Boar (Elisabeth Frink) Water Gardens, Town Centre
  7. Contrapuntal Forms (Barbara Hepworth) Glebelands Housing Area
  8. Shenzhou (Simon Packard) Addison House Courtyard
  9. Eve (Auguste Rodin) Water Gardens, Town Centre

But what about lesser known and possibly overlooked works?
Through my Facebook page, I invite readers to share with me their favourite Harlow sculpture, particularly if it is not on the list above. And if you have the time and inclination, please do tell me why you like it.

portrait-figure-cropPicture of ‘Portrait Figure’, F.E. McWilliam, Bronze, 1956, located West Walk.