Two talks in Helsinki

Next week I’m presenting Naked on Pluto at Pixelache’s Pixelversity on Wednesday evening (9th November) at the Cable Factory. Owen Kelly will also be there to talk about Pixelversity’s ‘Social Identity, Augmented Reality & Virtuality’ Study Group’ which will take place next year.

On Saturday afternoon (12th November), Till Bovermann and I will be demoing Supercollider, Fluxus, Scheme Bricks and Betablocker DS and talking about what it means to be a livecoder at the Hacklab Helsinki.

manSEDANse 2011

I was honored with an invitation to present some thoughts on open source/free software at this year’s manSEDANse festival in Tampere. It was nice to talk about the connections between Germination X, Naked on Pluto and Betablocker DS with some quick live demos, and catch up on the developments of open hardware projects such as OHANDA from Tuomo Tammenpää and Cheap Fat and Open from Jacob Sikker Remin.

Lirec meeting in Bamberg

Last week was another Lirec meeting in Bamberg, where I was able to present an in depth description of how Germination X works. I also had the chance to talk with SICS/mobile life lab (one of the other project partners) about how we can take the game forward with the aim to provide some studies for how people relate to Lirec’s companion/characters/plant spirits – and hopefully also other players.

The game’s main mechanics are as follows:

Germination X is similar to other farming games except for the third factor – that plants may get ill if their ecosystem cannot provide them with what they need. The other thing that makes Germination X unique in the socal games space is of course the addition of the plant spirits.

Each spirit represents a group of plants – the more specific permaculture term is a “layer”, as the groups represent the layers of a forest, from the root level (called rhizosphere) all the way up to the canopy trees.

Note: dandelions are more correctly part of the herbaceous layer, but we are taking artistic licence here, and lending it to the ground cover spirit for the moment.

In the FAtiMA rules for the game, the spirits have relationships defined for each of the plants in their group, and relationships defined between themselves. This allows us to use the way FAtiMA models emotions to get some nice results, for example if a player plants an apple tree the Tree Spirit may experience “Joy”. However, the Ground Cover Spirit doesn’t like the Tree Spirit as it’s plants shade it’s clover and dandelions too much – this action will cause it to express “Resentment”. Such processes, so the theory goes, create more understandable and believable characters.

Coimbra Lirec meeting

Cnotinfor hosted the latest Lirec consortium meeting last week in the Portugese town of Coimbra. Cnotinfor are a company researching technology and education, more specifically a system called Little Mozart which teaches children to play music using a character displaying emotional behaviours based on research from the project. I presented the latest version of Germination X, which recieved an immediate impromptu test during the presentation as people logged on to try planting some seeds.

Piksel 2010 (un)stable

Piksel 2010 (un)stable was the 8th piksel, and the second time I’ve been lucky enough to participate. I was there to present Naked on Pluto and general livecoding duties.

I didn’t have as much time or energy to get involved with the other things going on as I’d have liked, so this is mainly a report on my activities. I did see a super talk by Audun Eriksen about the visual programming language scratch and it’s use for teaching kids to make games – very inspiring stuff.

Scratch was where I started with the idea for scheme bricks, so it was great that the next day Alex and I had the functional livecoding workshop, where people could get their hands dirty with some of our live coding performance ideas.

This was followed in the evening by a slub performance, where we got a little carried away by the responsive audience and the rather nice sound system. It’s always good to do performances with stuff you’ve done a workshop on earlier as the participants can put it in context (and tell other people what’s going on!). The image is a link to a video of the performance on

The next day was a switch to Naked on Pluto with Aymeric and a presentation where we discussed clouds, problems with social media, farmville and the intricacies of the facebook graph api.

(pictures thanks to Régine Debatty)

It was great to get questions from people who have tried playing the game before seeing our talk. Hopefully this can be the case as we discuss the project more widely.

LED tracking with a particle filter

Some LED bike light tracking using a particle filter:

I’ve been invited to do a lecture for Markku Nousiainen’s experimental course on computational photography next week, so I’ve been constructing some demos that display different computer vision algorithms based on the work I’ve been doing on Lirec. The idea is that they may serve as inspiration for how algorithmic understanding of images can be used for artistic purposes.

The code is part of the mysterious magic squares library.

manSEDANse 2010

I took a little train journey up to Tampere to present pure:dyne and fluxus and introduce livecoding in the manSEDANse festival. I couldn’t stay for as long as I wanted, but managed to get some pictures of the exhibition they were showing as part of the festival.

KOKOMYS: ELECTRONIC DEVICES – Four port NAND synthesizer with one of Heikki Salo’s (aka cj hekxsa) music videos in the background.

Tristan Perich’s 1-Bit Symphony

Hubin Aamiainen – Hub Breakfast

I’m talking at Hub Helsinki on Tuesday (14th September), probably covering FoAM, groworld and perhaps a little bit of livecoding and Naked on Pluto. The official event description is here.

It’s one of their breakfast meetings, so starts at 8.30 – which I quite like as it keeps the rest of the day free. The Hub is an idea that has spread to many cities throughout the world, and Helsinki has one of the more recent places to get one. The general idea is to provide a shared space for working in, and encourage people from different backgrounds to mix.

Pixelache #2: Kerava groworld installation

Lina Kusaite and I installed the groworld project as part of Camp Pixelache at Kerava Art Museum. It was the first time the plant eyes game had been exposed to so many public – but as I’ve come to expect, younger visitors needed surprisingly little explanation to figure out how to play (i.e. none), while older people needed a little help. It was also the first showing of the huge pataforest drawing.

The arduino and plant sensor worked constantly throughout the day (not surprising as it’s sister has been working tirelessly for months) feeding the game with environmental information from the test subject plant – a pink Gerbera.

The camp in general was an interesting experience. The day started (after some last minute setup) with barcamp style discussions – I took part in one on Art and renewable energy before having to switch modes and present Fluxus and talk about livecoding with Gabor as part of the puredyne sprint debriefing. It was good to connect the two threads by using the groworld installation downstairs as an example of fluxus being used.

Aymeric Mansoux presenting the puredyne penknife.