TOYBOX at TROVE, Friday 15th June

The show that I’m curating with TROVE opens to the public on Friday June 15th from 6pm


Artists include: Rosie Curtis & Steph Bryant, Emilie Crewe, Claire Davies, James Gill, David Lee, Maria Mattos, Duncan McKellar, Kate Morrison, Richard Peel, Daniel Salisbury, Kate Spence and Sam Underwood

In June 2012 TROVE, with Antonio Roberts, are hosting an exhibition about toys. This project leads on from the discovery that the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, where TROVE is based, used to produce more ‘toys’ than jewellery, guns or pens during the industrial revolution; all things it is now more famously known for producing. When researching what toys were produced in this area of Birmingham it was discovered that the term ‘toys’ was used to describe items such as buttons, cuff-links and belt buckles.

With the misinterpretation of the word ‘toys’ TROVE are presenting an exhibition of the contemporary understanding of the word. With a mixture of performance (preview night only), film and modified/hacked toys, this group exhibition is lively, fun and playful.

Preview: 15th June 2012 6-8pm
Open: 16th, 23rd and 24th June 2012 1-4pm

or by appointment
email for further information

TROVE, Newhall Square,
Off 144 Newhall Street,
B3 1RZ (map)

Something In The Water – Issue 1

Earlier in the year I produced some illustrations of BiLE, Glitch Lich and Benoît and the Mandelbrots for a mini booklet about Network Music Festival. The whole magazine, which includes the mini booklet, has recently been released as Something In The Water:

Something In The Water is a magazine that delves into the past, present and future music scenes/clubs/creativity of Birmingham.
The magazine unveils long forgotten, eye-opening events, allowing a new audience to understand the importance of Birmingham’s musical history, while allowing another audience to reminisce. Something In The Water contains no photography and is illustrated by talented creatives from across the world.

The magazine is having a launch party on 26th May 2012. You can see my work alongside the interviews from page 40 onwards, or have a look below

Something in the Water

Something in the Water

Text on multiple lines in Pure Data

For my set for From Digbeth With Hammers at BOYD 8 I was required to display their logo on screen. This sounds like it should be a relatively easy task, but their logo consisting of four lines of text presented some interest problems.

From Digbeth With Hammers

In Pure Data there’s three objects you can use to display text on-screen: [text2d], [text3d] and [textextruded]. They have different ways of receiving text input, which I’ll get onto later, but one of the common methods that I often utilise in this scenario is by using a symbol box. In addition to receiving symbols Symbol boxes can be used to input text by just clicking on the box and typing text. Hitting Enter sends that text to its outlet. This presented a slight problem.

If you follow conventions from word-processing programs usually Enter is used to start a new line (carriage return). So, with Enter being used to send the text I had to find another solution to display text on multiple lines. Due to time contstraints I had to resort to the very messy solution of using multiple [text3d] objects.

Very messy!

This solution worked except for two things:

  • It isn’t scaleable. If I wanted to change the text by adding or removing lines I’d have to adjust the amount of text3d objects, change the spacing between each object and ensure that the size of the text still fitted on-screen. All of this is nearly impossible to do in a live setup unless you have a patient and forgiving audience!
  • It occasionally crashes. Occasionally when I would change the [depth( setting or move the whole text using [translateXYZ] the whole of Pure Data would crash. My suspicion is that the extra processing power needed to render and alter the text caused it to crash. Luckily this didn’t happen during my performance but it did result in me avoiding text manipulation.

So, what I needed was a way to insert carriage returns in Pure Data. I consulted the Pure Data mailing list and they informed me that [text3d] and [textextruded] accept ascii text as well. In ascii everything you see on-screen, from blank spaces to foreign characters and, most importantly, carriage returns, have a numerical value (10 is a carriage return). I was promptly provided a solution to my problem by typing out the band’s logo in ascii.

This worked except that, for every situation I wanted to have text, I would have to type out the text in ascii beforehand. I had no way to dynamically type out ascii. Even a suggested “asciifyer” abstraction suffered the same problem of not recognising Enter as a carriage return.

Awhile later Jonathan Wilkes showed me a solution that utilised [makefilename] to insert the carriage return! After a bit of modifying I finally had a patch that could have text on multiple lines using only one [text3d] object.

Click to download

And a video of it in action:

There still is, to my knowledge, no way of inserting a carriage return in Pure Data using only the keyboard. Also, this solution requires you to type of your text on three different symbol object boxes. Also, a space is added each time you add a new line, which is probably the result of using [add2 $1(. With that said, this solution is a step in the right direction!

Now if only I could go back in time and use it when I needed it…

From Digbeth With Hammers at BOYD 8

Since November 2011 I’ve been providing visuals for First Fold Records’ monthly Bring Out Your Dead (BOYD) events. This sees me working with the headline acts to create visuals tailored to their performance. I often do a recording of the sets, which you can see on my YouTube channel.

For BOYD 8 I did visuals for local band From Digbeth With Hammers. The band said they wanted any visuals that included “bricks and concrete and things that look like they’ve been hit with massive hammers.” So, I got them lots of videos of explosions, demolition sites and cranes 😉 Here’s a sample of the visuals that I did set to the “Collage” track available from their website

Their set on the night was much louder than this track and was overall really awesome. That night also saw me try out a few new techniques in Pure data.

From Digbeth With Hammers for BOYD 8

In addition to using the [newWave] object as my plane for displaying videos I utilised feedback loops and the red/green 3D display mode (made by sending [stereo 3( to [gemwin]).

From Digbeth With Hammers

Old-school 3D!

Perhaps the biggest change was my use of the keyboard for controlling visuals. The mouse is a great input device but it doesn’t lend itself to rapid responsiveness. In past performances I’ve often found myself reacting to the visuals a second later due to having to scroll my mouse over the patch to find the right button to press. Being able to press a key is so much quicker!

The next BOYD night is on 7th June

Papergirl Birmingham Distribution Ride

On Saturday 28th April I took part in the Papergirl Birmingham Distribution Ride. As explained in my previous blog post on the subject Papergirl is about delivering artwork on your bike around the city to an unsuspecting public. Earlier in the week there was an exhibition of the work. Craig Bush made this awesome video documenting the exhibition night. All of the artworks were then rolled up ready for the distribution ride!

Photo by Lee Basford


Aside from the occasional rejection of artwork, the public responded quite well to strangers offering them rather vague-looking rolls of paper, even if they did contain great art inside!

Photo by Lee Basford

One of the lucky winners even joined us on our journey on their skateboard

Aside from a few people who opened their rolls of art in front of us there really is no way of knowing who got what piece of artwork. I’d be interested to know who go my artwork! Regardless, it was a great ride around the city and a very unique way of taking art to the masses,

Well done again to Kate Grundy for organising it and you should probably follow the Papergirl Birmingham website if you want to know more 😉