Execution: a solo exhibition by Martin Howse

Some images of Martin Howse’ solo exhibition at the Fish Factory (Falmouth’s experimental gallery/reclaimed art space).

This exhibition consists of dot matrix printouts, large scale plotter prints, photographs, German VHS cassettes and a mass of technology – and clearly focuses on how it interferes with us physically though our bodies, and in a wider scale through our geography via mapping and recording experiments. His work is presented here without explanation, which means it must be taken on face value – quite a challenge as so much of the material he’s working with is invisible, or hidden inside both intricate custom devices and reclaimed/adapted circuitry from various sources.

It’s a challenge I like a lot, and equally intriguing is the difficulty in detecting ‘edges’ of the different exhibits on display. Extensive use of EM radiation (transmission and reception) means the whole thing seems to be alive, working as a whole – signals spilling over into each other, with surging, clicking and roaring. Moving close to a massive coil, the attached drill becomes activated by the circuitry on my camera when I take a picture, and doesn’t calm down till I move away. Video documentation shows how devices recorded signals from the surrounding landscape were used to generate the images on the walls of the gallery.

The devices are also communicating with the heavy industrial activity outside in the ship repair dockyard. The muted vibrations of hammering seemed be communicating with the tattooing device controlled by process information from an attached Linux laptop.

Slub on Chordpunch CP0x08

A recording from our livecoding performance in Paris last year has been released for free on Chordpunch, a new online record label:

Chordpunch was set up to explore the many and moving forms of algorithmic music. That might mean a computer program generating every note you hear, or new electronic music inspired by algorithms, or human beings following interesting rules with musical outcomes.

Still in Paris, and still concerning slub, we are also featured as part of the Form@ts virtual exhibition at Jeu de Paume curated by Christophe Bruno. The exhibition concerns artwork, such as livecoding, that crosses borders of format and convention.

Al Jazari at the Fish Factory

A chance to unleash some participatory musical robot livecoding in Falmouth this weekend, with an Al Jazari installation at the relaunch and opening event of the Fish Factory Arts space. The last couple of galleries it’s been running in I’ve been unable to be physically present, so it was a good chance to get some feedback and pay careful attention to what people do.

While the robot programming is very simplified from the original version, there is still quite a steep learning curve. The learning process is audible and largely depends if a group of friends or an individual is having a go.

The programming seems to take several stages:

1. People initially experiment with single instructions, resulting in simple, slow beat with a single robot.

2. Learning how to navigate around the program and place more instructions comes next, resulting in complex but disorganised sounds. At this point often more people are attracted to join in.

3. Making more structured behaviours, palindromic patterns, repeating drum beats – people who get this far tend to stay for a while, working together programming all robots to coordinate their sounds.

Naked on Pluto/VIDA at ARCO2012 Madrid

Naked on Pluto entered the world of contemporary art last week as part of the VIDA/telefonica exhibit at the ARCO 2012 art fair in Madrid. This was the culmination of a lot of work making the game into an installation format, which represented the library as the centre of control and surveillance in Elastic Versailles. The installation consists of books printed from information stored in the game archives over the previous year, slogans and glowing LED books on the walls. We also had terminals running the game with the projection of the live game world in a circle in the middle of the space.

Most installations I’ve been involved with have tried hard to break the conventions of the art gallery, in this case we were very aligned with them, and we wanted to create a highly formalised space, all right angles, straight lines and consistent colours of blue, dark grey and white. VIDA’s crew of architects and builders put in a lot of effort for us to achieve this, and were also very helpful tweaking it according to our strange requests.

During the opening event and later on, it was interesting to see perhaps two different types of visitor. The older, perhaps more contemporary art focused groups had an extremely short attention span and presumably had their heads tuned to search out beautiful objects, and so were not really engaging with the work much. The younger visitors however were tending to stay longer, even logging in to Facebook in order to try the game (and alarmingly, sometimes leaving themselves logged in). I think the initial hook for this engagement were the slogans on the edges of the bookshelves – for future installations we need to consider different strategies for setting the scene, as it will need to change with different locations and context.

One of the great things about these events is meeting the other artists (and VIDA award winners) who were setting up and exhibiting their work – Paul Vanouse with Ocular Revision, Sebastian Muellauer and Toni Nottebohm with Protei and Verena Friedrich with Transducers. These projects are an interesting combination, with more finished and specifically designed for installation work (Ocular Revision, Transducers) mixing with the more in progress, or conceptual things like Naked on Pluto as software art, or Protei, which is a large collaborative project still very much in active development.

Check out the main Naked on Pluto blog.