19 February 2018
Week 268 saw the launch of Variations on a Weekend Theme, the project formerly known as Gummershow.
I worked with artist Emma Smith on a digital rendition of her piece Variations on a Weekend Theme. In 2015, the piece took the form of a pop-up apothecary that Emma dispensed prescriptions from; now, it’s available on tablets within the gallery, and on the internet at the Kettle’s Yard site – where you can find out more about the project and visit the apothecary.
I spent the days before the launch fine-tuning a few issues, and then headed down to Kettle’s Yard itself on the Thursday for the launch night. The new extension is excellent, and will allow for larger temporary exhibitions for them, though as ever, it’s the original space – and its 1970’s extension – that really lift the spirits. What a place; how nice to make something for their re-opening.
With Gummershow out of the way, it feels like I’m now into a new year: things have wound down, and I’m taking some time to recuperate and refocus. Week 269 was deliberately quiet: some time spent continuing some work on Selworthy, working on some personal engineering projects encompassing electronics, CAD, 3D fabrication and music, and starting to take stock. I also began setting up a few meetings about future projects and consultation. I also took time to catch up with friends and colleagues – something I’ve just not had space to do for a while.
What’s next? Thinking a bit more about the future, finishing up some hardware projects, having some conversations. If you’d like a chat, do get in touch.
05 February 2018
Back on the weeknotes wagon properly.
A couple of days on Selworthy was split equally between working through some cards tidying features, and doing research into new approaches to some of our key components. Increasingly, there are ideas I can only get my head around after a fair amount of reading, thinking, and staring, but a few hours at least got to the point where it was possible to define what a spike of a few of the features would look like.
I spent the rest of my time this week working on Gummershow with Emma, getting ready for the install. That involved lots of back-and-forth on the finer points of how things should look and work, and testing the install on iOS devices as that’s what it’ll predominantly be experienced on. By the end of the week, we had an experience we were satisfied with.
01 February 2018
I was always expecting January to busy; it turned out even busier than I planned, and the first casualty of that was Weeknotes. I also know it probably shouldn’t have been – that weeknotes are a useful part of process even if I’m thin on capacity, and that I should make them lighter rather than skip them.
Anyhow. Here we are. Let’s run down what’s been going on:
- Weeks 261 and 262 were the Christmas holidays. Very quiet, very pleasant, much-needed.
A second, concluding set of class days for Lowick, the Hyper Island Digital Management MA. I prepared three new sessions for this, called Data, Crypto, and a final one on real-world experience of digital projects. I’m particularly pleased with the Crypto session: in 60-90 minutes, it covers cryptography from a Caesar cypher through to crypto-currencies, with detours into polyalphabetic cyphers, how an Enigma machine works, how public-key encryption works, and what’s going on when you visit an HTTPS site. It turns out if you start with the simplest, pen-and-paper stuff, you can build on top of it until you have all the components to talk about other things.
On top of the sessions, we had a few more guest speakers and sessions in, which went well, and the students presented their responses to their brief. All of them were super-impressive – they’d improved each day I’d seen them, and noticeably since their first days on the module. A great conclusion to my work on the course. And: perhaps there’ll be more things resembling this kind of work in 2018.
- I spent a lot of January working on Gummershow, building a digital adaptation of one of Emma Smith’s works for the re-opening of Kettle’s Yard in February. That’s nearly complete as I type: some last adjustments to make. Lots of small details to work through, and at one point, a frantic afternoon of tearing out phantomjs and replacing it with puppeteer. (That turned out alright – it turns out puppeteer is very impressive, and was a fairly straightforward replacement). I should have more to write about this next week.
- Over on Selworthy, I focused on a few areas, notably, integrating with an extenral API; fixing rendering issues with, in particular, Arabic typefaces; and the usual fettling and ongoing improvement. We also had some good architectural discussions about the future.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it was fairly wall-to-wall – producing material for teaching, running classes, and then straight into a installation software build. And now it’s done. I’ve joking said to a few people this month that I’m still in 2017, and that 2018 begins for me in February.
Well, it’s February now. Happy new year.
18 December 2017
A slightly distorted week, in no small part thanks to illness.
Monday I took off as a catch-up post Hyper Island teaching. On Tuesday, I went up to Cambridge to meet Emma to talk over a digital work I’m building with her for the re-opening of Kettle’s Yard; this is the project known as Gummershow. I left Cambridge with a much clearer understanding of the problems at hand, and what I’d like to get done on the project before the year is out.
Unfortunately, by Wednesday, I was laid out with a solid case of endoftermitis: pushing a bit too hard towards the end of the year coupled with rooms full of people who may also have had colds. That led to lowered productivity for the rest of the week – I pushed through some work on Selworthy, but not entirely effectively, and perhaps should have been firmer with myself about taking time off: some days, though, it’s just boring being ill and I’d have given anything to have had my concentration back.
I ended the week perhaps further behind on Gummershow than I’d have liked, but in slightly better health. One more week to go – and it’s going to be a busy one.
04 December 2017
Oops. Missed a week. There’s a lot going on at the moment:
- I set up a first meeting with my collaborator on Gummershow. I tend to find that a day sat with an artist to confirm the brief and spec is much better than any number of phone calls. So we organised a day to sit with each other and sound out the idea. I think that’ll also lead us to discovering some unknown unknowns much faster, and hopefully lead to some new conclusions. I’m looking forward to that.
- I started writing lots of course materials for Lowick. To briefly decloak: in week 259 I’m going to be running workshops for Hyper Island’s MA in Digital Management. I’m the ‘industry lead’ for the digital technologies section of the course; over two intensive sets of campus days, we’re going to be diving deep on some ideas around digital technology practice and culture, and exploring some of the squishier, important edges of these issues, particular around cultural and ethical issues. I’m excited by the guest speakers we’ve got to challenge and provoke our students. Should be good.
- I spent my time on Selworthy working a lot with APIs: continuing to expand our inbound API, and then working on some integrations with third party systems. Great to see what was once architectural work turning into features.
- And finally, I wrapped up a phase of Longcrag collaboration work, with the largest circuit board I’ve designed to date. The firmware’s all working and the BOM’s pretty much good to go, so it’s time to share it with the community that are interested in it.