It’s Just Noise!

As readers of my blog will know by now you can easily import any data into audacity and play it as audio. However, most data that you’ll import and then play will just turn out as noise. That is simply because there’s too much noise in the image i.e. too many colours and too much data. So, if you reduce the amount of colours and data in theory you get something a little bit more pleasing to the ear. Experimentationing time!

These were my initial two shapes that I worked with:

And the resulting sound, when looped a lil’ bit:

It’s not much but it shows definite potential. I’ve yet to work out how colour affects the sound, but I’m getting there

The next logical step is to of course run a glitched image through this process! I worked with this image for the sound then used ImageMagick to crop the image to 30x30px squares and used FFmpeg to arrange them into a video.

It’s noise, but I like it 🙂

Film Dash 2010

Thanks to Team Make It So‘s winning Film Dash entry I can now add “Star in Award Winning Films” to my list of achievements.

You can watch my awe-inspiring debut from 1:10 😉

For those who don’t know Film Dash is an event where teams have 48 hours to film and edit a movie up to five minutes in length. I think this winning movie captures fun that can be had in doing something so manic!

Congrats to Team Make It So and to all who took part!

Preserving the glitch

On Thursday 4th March I took part in the AntsArtJam at BitJam in Stoke-on-Trent. Three canvases were set up on the stage and artists were invited to get creative on them as the night went on.

Antonio Roberts (by These Ants)

Photo by These Ants

Those who know me will know that live art is not something that I’ve really done before. I’ve done a fair bit of performing, but nothing like this, so it was quite an exciting challenge.

In my performance I set out to explore how to preserve glitches. Although there are no rules or even strict definitions to terms such as databending or glitch art, to me glitches are naturally occurring errors whereas databending is the act of reproducing an error. Take, for example, my Glitches set and my Databending set on Flickr. Whereas the Databending set is quite full the Glitches set has only three items. I feel this is because it’s harder to capture naturally occurring glitches as you’re often not prepared for them.

To prepare for my performance I downloaded the two movies from the Blender Foundation (Big Buck Bunny and Elephants Dream) and used a modified version of MPEGFucker to databend them. I opened them to at least see if they could be played, but otherwise had no idea what state they were in. This was then projected onto the canvas where I began to paint it.

bITjAM (by These Ants)

Photo by These Ants

I got a few questions asking how I was actually determining what to paint. Afterall, images were zooming by at 24 frames per second, so how would I decide what colour to put where? Overall I was looking for patterns. From the five or so seconds of footage that I’d see I’d try and determine what average value best represented it.

In some ways this is a randomised process. I had only seen seconds of the glitched movie prior to the performance so didn’t know what to expect. Also, marks that I made on the canvas were determined by where my brush was, what colour was on there at the time and what was being projected. To add to this throughout the three-hour performance I didn’t really get to see any of what I was painting, due to the projection onto the canvas. I’m sure there were many occasions where I painted over the same spot many many times.

Here’s the finished product, next to work by Iona Makiola

IMG_0510 (by These Ants)

Photo by These Ants

All of the work from the night, including the video footage that I used, will be exhibited as part of The Talking Shop project in Stoke-on-Trent in the near future

fizzPOP’s first birthday

Recently fizzPOP celebrated the two of its first birthday’s. On January 26th the mailing list was set up and on February 28th we had our first meeting. We count each one as our birthday, which, in theory, means more cake!

fizzPOP hacksession 03/03/2010 (by Nikki Pugh)

Leftovers from the last session. Photo by Nikki Pugh

I’m really quite proud of what myself and Nikki have achieved so far with fizzPOP. As I’ve stated in my many presentations about hackerspaces and fizzPOP it was first set up to scratch an itch: I wanted to have a space outside of education to learn more about electronics and technology. Luckily Nikki had the same itch and we soon found ourselves working on the creating and running of fizzPOP.

I wont rattle on about the history of fizzPOP as we’re still creating it, and there’s little to gain from talking about the pitfalls we’ve had. The thing that I’m most proud of is that we can regularly get people from all over the west midlands (and occasionally reaching as far as Liverpool and London) in a room to do what they love most. I just wish we could do this more regularly, maybe even every day!

fizzPOP 12/08/2009 (by Nikki Pugh)

Photo by Nikki Pugh

What next for fizzPOP? I’m still recovering from fizzPOP workshop from the awesomeness that is Mitch Altman and Jimmie Rodgers, so have no brain space left to think about anything else! All I know is that I want to see more workshops like that and more people showing off their mad hacker skills.

dev8d 2010

From February 2th6 to 27th I was in London for dev8d. It describes itself as:

Dev8D is 4 days of 100% pure software developer heaven. It will be intense. It will be exhilarating. It will make you a better programmer.

• Learn to use unfamiliar languages (such as Python, Ruby and Clojure)
• Team up with other developers and build rapid development projects for tech prizes
• Take part in lightning session discussions with industry experts
• Swap skills and ideas with other developers

It was indeed like some kind of heaven! I arrived later in the week on Friday, but I still learnt quite a lot. I spent a lot of my time in the Expert Zone and at GB’s Arduino workshops.

Think of the Expert Zone as a more relaxed Pecha Kucha or Ignite. You get 15 minutes to talk about or promote whatever you want. I gave a short presentation on hackerspaces, with particular emphasis on fizzPOP, and why you should either form one or join one.

The Arduino workshops, led by fizzPOP regular GB, were really fun.

img_7101.jpg (by benc)

I’ve had an Arduino ever since the Howduino event last year but I’ve never really played around with it. Being around lots of people who are in the same position really helped me to make a move in learning it. In the end I got lots of LED’s flashing and a little buzzer to play some music. A small achievement to some, but a massive leap into the world of electronics!

Being at dev8d (and at the GNOME Hackfest, which I’ll write about another time) really taught me a lot about software development. It all starts with an idea, but taking that idea and turning it into a reality I feel is best achieved in a group setting with those who can contribute ideas and skills.

Congrats to the dev8d and devCSI team for putting on a very successful event. I’ll definitely be along next year!