June 30, 2007
Smartus, the interactive playground – you know for kids!


SmartUs (image above, diagrams below of different interfaces in the playground left and right an overview of the playground) is a playground environment concept developed by the company Lappset to encourage and promote physical playing which supports learning, physical and motor development as well as creativity. It employes:

technology to link the playground and its users. SmartUs offers interactive games for all age groups. The users can create games and applications based on images, sounds and text that support learning on the playground. The SmartUs product concept can be made use of in learning through play, playing computer games physically and in different kinds of well-being applications for special groups.

The playground comprises of four different games Conquistador, PointCollection, SpeedGame and AnimalPuzzle each which have unique interfaces. The website provides a wealth of information about the research, development, final location of playground and statistics concerning their use.

SmartUs Diagrams

Originally seen at Architectradure.

Posted by: Garrett @ 5:43 pm
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June 25, 2007
Always Something Somewhere Else

Got back last night from Expo Plymouth which overall was a bit of a disappointment (particularly the exhibition Lock, Stock and Barrel where very little was fully working when it opened) apart from a few gems scattered at different locations and often last in a programs running order.

Always Something Somewhere Else

So on topic (networks) one work which was simply beautifully was Always Something Somewhere Else (image above, video below) by Duncan Speakman, a sound artist exploring ideas of memory, geography and communication. The work:

is a GPS based soundwalk that builds itself as you experience it. To create it I worked with Hewlett Packard in Bristol and their new mscape software (http://www.mscapers.com).

In the work the listener is asked to locate various substances that form the contemporary urban environment (glass, stone, concrete etc.). As they mark the location of each one they begin to hear interwoven stories connecting them to remote locations around the world, soundtracked with a generative music score. The narratives are progressed and concluded as the listener returns to the locations they chose. The piece is reflective and sometimes melancholy, it touches on issues of climate change and global awareness, but ultimately encourages the listener to treasure the moments around them…

Always Something Somewhere Else depends very much on its story, its fiction, being engaging and it is. The narrator tells us about his location and the events he sees and remembers as he moves through it and asks us to find the same substances that he associated with these events in our location so we are both re-enacting his journey/memories and simultaneously creating our own. You want to find out more about the girl he tells us is climbing a tree and where the narrators poetic monologue is headed and so the work compels you to comply.

As you find each substance in the urban environment you are asked “will you remember this place?” (see image above, my stone) to which you respond yes or no by tapping a button on the touchscreen pda. This is in fact your current GPS location being saved, a waypoint marking your walking journey, but at no time is this indicated and it does not get more complex allowing the interface to really not become an obstacle to the work. The walk is in fact a loop which takes you back to where you began, approximately fifteen minutes outward bound throughout which you are told that we will come back to each location later and now to “keep walking”. The return journey, also obviously fifteen minutes, revisits the locations and notes how they have changed.

Luckily enough I bumped into Duncan and asked what would become of all the journeys/maps created throughout the weekend? Would this then be used to map all routes that had occurred of this re-enacted journey/memory? The response was that the journeys were not in fact saved longer than the running of the mobile application as they were the users personal fiction, their journey and hopefully would become their memories.

Some other work at the exhibition which played with similar(ish) themes to Duncan’s work (walking as an event, location etc.) was Simon Whitehead & Barnaby Oliver’s Wade (part of Dulais, Dulais Duck can be heard here) which was shown as an audio installation. You should of course know about the work of Richard Long who has been working with ideas of walking, location and site-specific art for years and as concepts Guy DeBord’s Dérive and Psychogeography. Expo Plymouth finishes today (25/06/07).

Posted by: Garrett @ 12:25 pm
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June 22, 2007
Telematic Dress

Telematic Dress

At the moment I am a sucker for anything with Telematic in the title as I’m (still) slowly working my way through Roy Ascott’s Telematic Embrace. Telematic Dress (image above, video below) popped up on Networked Performance via Architectradure about ten days ago:

The telematic dress project began at Nottingham-Trent University’s DAP lab as an exploration into the development of performative fashion and the sharing these garments across distance. The Arizona State University team joined the project in the fall of 2004 with an interest in exploring shared telematic space and ultimately the notion performers cooperatively embodying remote spaces.

The majority of information about this research is on a (bizarrely designed black background) pdf paper to download from the site. The abstract states:

The concept on an evolving garment design that is materialized (moved) in live performance originates from DAP Lab’s experimentation with telematics and distributed media (http://art.ntu.ac. uk/performance_research/birringer/dap.htm) addressing “connective tissues” through a study of perception/proprioception in the wearer (tactile sensory processing) and the dancer/designer/viewer relationship. This study is conducted as cross-cultural communication with online performance partners in Europe, the US, Brazil and Japan. The inter-active space is predicated on transcultural questions: how does the movement with an evolving design and wearable interactive sensors travel, how does movement – and capturing of movement – allow the design to emerge toward a garment statement, and how are bodies-in-relation-to sensory fabrics affected by the multidimensional kinesthetics of a media-rich, responsive environment.

We don’t often see much come out of Nottingham-Trent University related to networks and performance which is a surprise when you consider that Stelarc has been a Principal Research Fellow in the Performance Arts Digital Research Unit there for a number of years.

Other works with Telematic in the title include; Telematic Vision and Telematic Encounter by Paul Sermon and Telegarden (close enough) by Ken Goldberg.

Originally seen at Networked Performance and Architectradure.

Posted by: Garrett @ 10:03 am
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June 19, 2007
Bill Shackelford – Blogged & Spamtrap

Two projects by Bill Shackelford which employ the internet to affect events / things in ‘real’ space. These works highlight unseen cause (online / networked / virtual) and remind us of its very ‘real’ effects by demonstration through simple yet very physical (Cartesian space / ‘real’ world) and what could be considered violent ways.


Blogged (image above) is an networked interactive art installation and one day net event dealing with the concept of being ‘blogged’. Its purpose is to attempt to burst a red balloon 6 feet in diameter by using traffic from blogs linking to the art works webpage.

It first ran on Thursday May 31, 2007 live from The Ohio State University Art and Technology show “Digescape”. During this one day event I suggested a link for consideration to this installation to a number of blogs in hopes that they would blog it on their sites and include a link back to this page (http://billshackelford.com/home/portfolio_blogged). My website then monitored the traffic coming from these blogs and ran an air compressor for 1 second for each visit, filling up and then popping the 6 feet in diameter red balloon live on the web. Visitors were be able to monitor the installation with a live video feed where they could watch the air compressor fill up the balloon and then pop. I turned everything on at 12:30 pm and notified several blogs of the installation shortly after. The balloon popped around 5:30 pm the same day.

The idea came from a previous experience when my artwork was fortunate to be blogged by several blogs. I found it interesting to see how quickly artwork spread from blog to blog. It was also interesting to see as time passed and the posts about my artwork would fade into the blog archives, that the traffic to my site dried up almost as fast as it arrived.


Spamtrap (image above, video below) is an interactive installation:

that prints, shreds and blacklists spam email. It interacts with spammers by monitoring several email addresses I created specifically to lure in spam and an old unused personal email address I use to lure in spam. I do not use these email addresses for any other communication. I post these individual email addresses on websites and online bulletin boards that cause them to be harvested by spambots and then to start receiving spam.

Because I know that all email sent to these email addresses are spam, I have set the installation to print and then shred each email as it arrives. Simultaneously the installation is feeding spam blacklists on the web with information gathered from all the received spam (a newly added feature). This in turn helps to feed spam filtering systems across the web that are working to reduce the amount of spam we all receive. Click here for more information about Spamtraps.

The installation uses a Pentium II computer connected to a wireless network, personal printer, personal shredder, aluminum rails, Spamtrap email addresses, automatic printing software, email client software, antivirus software, and a SpamCop user account. The paper is recycled after the spam email has been shredded.

Originally seen on Bitbabble here and here.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:07 pm
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June 18, 2007

The last work I’m going to write about from the Royal Collage of Art MA show The Great Exhibition 2007.


A work from MA Industrial Design Engineering by Gail Knight called Veer (image above). Veer is a:

pedestrian navigation system, specifically designed for walking in London. Orientation through the capital can be a confusing and stressful activity. It is difficult to enjoy the sights of London when you have your eyes glued to a map. Veer does away these nuisances by implementing a simple system of vibrating rings. Worn one on each hand, Veer guides you to your destination, and in so doing, frees you to focus on the pleasures of travel while safely leading you by the hand.

Posted by: Garrett @ 8:48 am
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