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20 Sep

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Unique Knitwear Ltd pattern

September 20, 2016 | By | No Comments

I’ve been working on a series of knitted signs based on the signage for Unique Knitwear Ltd, our 2nd floor neigbours at Rogue Studios, Mcr. I first developed the design as part of progress, and replaced the original signage with the knitted version. Ayub, the manager at Uniwue, liked the sign but asked me if I could knit a second version with their new telephone number. I made a new sign for him, and also decided to create a few more (as part of an ‘unlimited edition’) for exhibition both at Manchester Contemporary Art Fair, and a show at Rogue later in the year.

Since the work itself is a play on the idea of originality in art and textiles, I felt it right that I share my design here, should people wish to knit their own. The design was created to knit with 4 ply cashmillion acrylic yarn (from Yeaman Yarns) to produce a 70cm x 45 cm piece (with margins for attaching to a frame. I have used the IMG2Track software to format the design and send it to the machine. The piece is 158 stiches wide over 300 rows (effective stretch 1.4).

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01 Mar

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in progress – Liverpool Small Cinema

March 1, 2015 | By | No Comments

I’m currently creating a new Small Cinema in Liverpool. read more about it here.

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08 Apr

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Through His Teeth – rehearsal images

April 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

The second of the show I’m currently working as video designer for is Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House in London. Again the story is loosely based on Faust – read about  ‘The Crackle’ here, and both shows use designer Becs Andrews’s amazing forced perspective set.

Through His Teeth is directed by Bijan Shebani and tells the story of a woman who falls in love with a conman, and is drawn into his fantasy world of secret service operatives and high living. As a cost she loses her money, her family and her mind, becoming increasingly paranoid that their every move is being watched by secret agents. Remarkably it is based on a true story.

For the show I have decided to use live cctv cameras rigged around the set, to create a constant feeling of being watched. I switch between the 8 separate feeds, whilst also mixing in some pre-prepared location footage (shot as if on cctv) and replaying moments captured onstage from previous scenes. This is done using a number of tools, including cctv camera sna cabling, a video multiplexer and a switcher, two digitisers and Isadora, The result is a very raw video collage of real live action, replayed memory and locative ‘other’ spaces that provide a really interesting background texture to the performers and the story.

read a review here

below are some images from the rehearsal process.

see the full set on Flickr

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08 Apr

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The Crackle – rehearsal images

April 8, 2014 | By | No Comments


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I’m currently video designer on two shows at the Royal Opera House in London, both loosely based on Faust. One of those shows is ‘The Crackle‘, by Matthew Herbert, an artist renowned for his work with live and recorded sound, and exploratory technology in a performance setting. It’s a very brave piece, expanding the context of opera to include live foley artists, reactive video projection, spatial sound mixing, unrestrained audience participation via a sonic barcoding app (Chrip), and a huge mechanical instrument called ‘The Dervish’ by MIT genius Andy Cavatorta.  Oh, and 47 children. It’s no small feat. It’s all contained within an amazing forced perspective set by designer Becs Andrews.

The show twists the Faustian story to present a cautionary tale about the possibilities and traps of working with digital media. I’ve been basing my designs around an 8-bit inspired aesthetic – running bespoke animation modules and prepared video through simple effects to give the images a very glitchy playful bitmap feel to them. It’s actually not a million miles away from my knitting work. As always I’m using Isadora, allowing me to utilise live cameras to generate imagery from movement onstage, and also to create some interesting  and dynamic compositing and displacement effects. I’ve also managed to sneak a few punchcard designs in there.

below are some images from the rehearsal process.

see the full set on Flickr

20 Apr

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Equipment testing – lasers, chroma, cctv, triplehead2go

April 20, 2013 | By | No Comments

This last week has been full on with testing new bits of equipment and processes for two projects – the Portal project with Re-Dock, and the Wonderous Place theatre show. Both projects open on the same day (15th May) and both are pretty tech heavy for myself and the other artists involved. For the last month I’ve been speccing tech setups for each show, trying to divvy up the equipment I currently have, and cobble together any extra peripherals needed.

In the midst of all this testing, I’ve been playing with the Vine app on my iPhone. Below you can see tech tests and demos for the Matrox TripleHead2Go (sending external display across 2 projectors), a chroma kit, a colour cctv cam, and Dave Lynch‘s laser sound device.

14 Apr

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Avoidance and Encouragement

April 14, 2013 | By | One Comment


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Lately I’ve been avoiding things…

When I’m developing new work I find often myself (unknowingly) resisting the next steps in creating the work. It’s an unconscious thing, based on fear of the unknown, but manifests itself through procrastination and re-prioritising (doing admin), avoidance of forking out for necessary expenses, or rationalisation that something ‘wont work anyway’. Recently I’ve felt it when dealing with new materials – such as my experiments with concrete – which in hindsight were so straightforward, but at the time felt alien.

It can be crippling at times. I remember struggling to start the first Small Cinema community project, to the point where I just wanted to just give the funding grant back and shout “I can’t do it!”, until my friend and fellow Re-Dock-er John O’Shea sat me down and asked “what do you want to do, and when do you need to do it?”. From that point, we set some tasks and some dates and I just tried to hit them. Having someone there to share the responsibility of thinking about it was what got me going, and not wanting to let them down got me through it.

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Haunted by the Ghost

A similar scenario occurred this week with my artwork for the Portal project. I’m designing a video installation which is a development of the database-style installation of Gillfoot No. 2, whilst incorporating Skype as a live interface, and a Peppers Ghost illusion as part of the presentation. Whilst I had researched the illusion extensively, I had not tested it enough practically and found myself avoiding doing so, until friend and projection magician Dave Lynch invited me to Leeds to have a play for an afternoon. It was Dave’s confidence and enthusiasm for the idea that encouraged me to fork out on a few materials and commit some time purely to experimentation (a rare treat these days!) to achieve the illusion. And of course, as he was a friend, I didn’t want to let him down…

So we spent an afternoon in a dark room in Leeds stacking boxes on monitors and taping bits of perspex and mylar at odd angles, and pretty soon we had results. Ghostly reflections of my pixellated face appeared on the plastic screen and I could see that this was going to work. Dave also is a keen documenter of process so thankfully we have pictures to prove we achieved something. Sketching and prototyping is such a valuable part of a creative process, but its something I avoid, for the fear of it not working. Here though, I was kicking myself for not trying it earlier. If it hadn’t been for someone, in this case Dave, pinning me down to a day to experiment, I have written it off without trying it at all.

The final piece, along with Dave’s own work with lasers,  will be presented as part of the Portal project exhibition – “Can You Hear Me? I Can See You!” at FACT from 17th May.

31 Jan

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Gillfoot No. 2 – test recording

January 31, 2013 | By | No Comments

Recording of test patch for Gillfoot No. 2 – a database video installation drawing upon 2 accounts of a recent mine collapse in Egremont, Cumbria. Each interview is split into 100+ clips which are called randomly and played back with realtime fx rendering using isadora. The final piece will be shown as part of a group exhibition in Florence Mine, Egremont.

30 Jan

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View From Here – test 01

January 30, 2013 | By | No Comments

Experiment I’ve been working on this week. Using a traditional manual titling system bought on Ebay and lettraset to create analogue equivalent to motion graphics typography. Filmed at Florence Mine, Egremont in Cumbria as part of a new work for the ‘Unearthed’ exhibition.

19 Jan

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new materials: concrete

January 19, 2013 | By | No Comments


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Over the last few weeks I’ve been researching and testing ways to create concrete blocks from my own custom moulds for a new piece of work entitled ‘Deep Repository’, as part of my residency at Florence Mine. The aim is to develop a simple system for creating marked ‘gravestones’ for digital media – an absurd apocalyptic archive, allowing someone to encase a master copy of a work (eg dv tape), knowing that it should in theory survive armageddon, even if the technology to play it back doesn’t.

The work was inspired by a twitter conversation with animator David OReilly, who was wondering what to do with old digibeta copies of his films that he no longer needed. Suggesting that rather than throw them away he should pass them to a proper film archive, I also offered to encase a tape in carbonite – a reference to Han Solo’s fate in Empire Strikes Back. Whilst my current approach to creating an ‘archival tomb’ has been to ditch the fictional metal alloy in favour of the more readily available concrete, my unfamiliarity with the material itself has been a key obstacle.

Working with digital media, its not so often I actually get my hands dirty, although the recent Moston Small Cinema build was an exception that perhaps gave me some confidence to attempt more physical projects. I have never worked with concrete though, and I was unsure how to mix it, and whether it would allow me to mould text. My first mistake was to trust an expert, who convinced me to buy mortar as it had a finer aggregate. I felt excited as I poured my mixture into the two moulds -one milled mdf, one lasercut ply – both featuring text cutaways. However, the result was a grainy crumbly brick that failed to render any text effectively enough from my moulds.

Disappointed, and unsure whether it was material or the mould design, I decided I needed to have a crack with the real thing, and nipped off to B&Q for a bag of quickset concrete. I also did some research into alternative methods of marking concrete, placing wooden offcuts and plywood letters in the base of my plastic tub moulds, and making plates for stamping impressions into the surface. The results were much more positive. The concrete set much faster than I anticipated (making stamping tricky), but it formed around the mould well, even taking the shiny sheen of the plastic tub on some surfaces. Removing the wooden text pieces was tricky, but I was pleased with the impressions they had left. I felt more confident I could develop my mould, and that concrete would work as the medium.

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Another materials test experimented with text sizes and material thicknesses, using lasercut birch plywood moulds that I made at Fab Lab Manchester. I also decided to test the feasibility of incorporating QR codes into the design, in order to explore the possibilities of interfacing with the marker through a smartphone, as with ‘digital gravestones‘.

cutting notes:

  • 3mm ply – speed 19 / power 100 / freq 500   (adjust speed to 17/ 18?)
  • 4mm ply – speed 12 / power 100 / freq 500

I created both relief and impression moulds testing different font sizes. The results were mixed. The QR code also looked nice, but wasn’t functional, either to a camera or as a rubbing. Text was defined in some parts, broken in others, and this perhaps had something to do with the concrete mixture itself. It seems that in order to use text, I need to be working with larger font sizes, better spaced.

The final Deep Repository Module will hopefully use these techniques to render *some* information on the surface, whilst entombing the digital media within. In addition, the design will house an accessible usb drive via a waterproof connector, enabling a copy of the media (though not the master) to be viewed, either via laptop or digital screen.

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