Art and Tech Social: Command-line image manipulation with ImageMagick, 7th March

On 7th March I’ll be delivering a short workshop at BOM on using ImageMagick for image manipulation.

Join us for local food and drinks from Southside and get hands-on making with a bunch of like-minded folks interested in art and tech. This new monthly event aims to inspire emerging creatives and offer peer-to-peer tech support in a friendly, collaborative environment. Each workshop is different, featuring a different guest speaker and activities.

ImageMagick is a suite of command-line utilities for manipulating images. Most of its capabilities can be found in programs with a graphical user interface (GUI) such as GIMP or Photoshop. ImageMagick differs in its ability to use algorithms and programming to quickly batch process a number of images, add effects, convert between common and uncommon file formats, apply filters, generative special effects, and more!

In this workshop Antonio Roberts will introduce you to the using the terminal to perform tasks usually carried out by GUI programs. By the end participants will have learnt:

  • how to install ImageMagick
  • How to convert between file formats
  • How to view advanced metadata
  • How to apply a variety of effects to images
  • How to optimize files for print and internet
  • How to create animated gifs with only a few keystrokes

The workshop is free to attend. To take part you should bring a Mac or Linux computer. ImageMagick does 100% work on Windows but the way the terminal/command line works is very different from Unix systems. For those without a Mac or Linux computer please contact louise@bom.org.uk. If you’re feeling brave you can install ImageMagick prior to the start of the workshop.

Exquisite Corpse workshops overview

Permission Taken, which exhibited at Birmingham Open Media and University of Birmingham between October 2015 – May 2016, focused on copyright, remix culture and ideas around sharing, originality and ownership. In planning the exhibition I was fully aware that these concepts can be quite complex to comprehend and, worse still, incredibly boring, so I devised various ways communicate these ideas . I did so not in order to dumb it down but to give audiences as many entry points as possible. The exhibition featured images, texts, videos, sculptures, documentation of research and workshops. One such workshop was the Exquisite Corpse workshops.

Exquisite Corpse workshop

It’s highly likely that you will have encountered the Exquisite Corpse idea before but under a different name such as Picture Consequences or Exquisite Cadaver. The concept was originally developed by the Surrealists in the early 1900s as a way to collaboratively create a piece of art. Having discussed this concept with David Littler whilst at the Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts Copyright + Art event I began to think about how this could be recontextualised to talk about ownership and copyright.

In the workshops, which took place at Birmingham Open Media and University of Birmingham as part of the Arts and Science Festival, I split the participants into small groups and gave them the task of creating an image based on a theme – children’s cartoons or mythical creatures. The tools they had at their disposal were images from the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections, lots of small bits of vinyl and pens. In both cases artistic talent wasn’t the focus, more the communication of the theme. After a short time I made the groups switch places and add to the new piece using their theme i.e. not adopt the original theme.

Exquisite Corpse Workshop

Exquisite Corpse Workshop at Arts & Science Festival

Following the collaborative art making we regrouped to have a discussion about several topics. Imagining myself as an art dealer will lots of cold hard cash to spend (I wish!) I asked the group how the funds should be divided if sold. Initially most were more than happy to split it equally. That is until I decided to introduce some doubt.

I suggested to the group that the amount of funds given should be based on the quantity of their contribution. In planning the workshops I specifically gave each group less time on their second piece than I did on their first, the theory being that with less time they would be able to contribute less. Should this result in them receiving less funds?

I then suggested to them to think about the quality of the contribution and not just the quantity. One group used the imagined scenario that they were a highly successful artist and the others were still unknown. Even if the unknown artists contributed the same or more to each piece should the successful artist receive a greater share of the funds? Socially their contribution could be considered worth more due to their status and so, in theory, this could be reflected in the funds received.

Exquisite Corpse Workshop at Arts & Science Festival

Finally, they took into account whether the originator of the idea should be rewarded with a greater share of the funds. Although I was technically the originator of the idea of this iteration of the workshop, in each group you could see participants leading or guiding others using their own ideas. Using this line of thinking should the “originator ” of the idea receive a greater share of the funds?

All of these ideas and more were discussed at length. The participants began to see how this relates to their own practice as they often collaborate with others and consider how it will affect the market value of their artworks and themselves. There are still no obvious answers to these questions and it often boils down to opinions and lawyers, of which there are many! For related things see Writing About Comics and Copyright by Ronan Deazley, which looks at quantity and quality in relation to copyright, the Sweat of the Brow doctrine which talks about effort in relation to the worth of art, and the Monkey Selfie which highlights authorship and ownership of art.

Exquisite Corpse Workshop at Arts & Science Festival

In the end what these workshops showed is that the legal side of art can distract from the creative aspects of it and make collaboration with others something more akin to a strict negotiation process. Nina Paley is an artist I often cite for her talk in which she talks about how copyright affected her work, Sita Sings the Blues.

Although my thoughts do mirror those of Paley’s, I am not advocating for a dismissal or abolition of the copyright system. Instead I would like to see the adoption of more permissive licences such as the Creative Commons licences and a greater focus on encouraging sharing and collaboration.

Live Research & Development: BOM Fellows Seminar, 7th March

On 7th March myself and Lucy Hutchinson will be presenting a small selection of our work for Evasive Manoeuvres at the BOM Live Research & Development Seminar.

liverandd

During our Live R&D exhibition BOM presents it’s second ever ‘Fellows Seminar’. This event will see all 16 of our 2016 Fellows present and discuss their current research and development.

This event is essential for students, designers, artists, technologists and scientists working in Birmingham, looking to learn and contribute to the local, artistic ecology.

The event starts at 12:30 and features presentations from all of the BOM Fellows. Our presentation will happen from 16:15.

Evasive Manoeuvres

During my 2016 Fellowship at Birmingham Open Media I will continue my collaboration with Lucy Hutchinson to further the work we have been producing in response to the growing surveillance culture. We will be devising creative interventions which aim to circumvent invasive surveillance technology.

evasive

These interventions will take a variety of approaches and will not be limited to purely hardware/software based response. In one such intervention we will be taking inspiration from the work of artists such as Adam Harvey and Zach Blas and develop a series of masks that can be worn to obscure faces from these cameras whilst making a political statement.

This project came about through several events. For me interest in this area started in 2015 when I curated the Stealth exhibition at Vivid Projects. This exhibition featured works by six artists that produced work in response to surveillance culture. This included a font by Sang Munn for circumventing text scanning software, a personal drone system by Joseph DeLappe and a film made entirely of CCTV footage by Manu Luksch.

Stealth

For Hutchinson work in this area began with the This Is What A Feminist Looks like and Paying Artist artworks produced in 2015. These works used facial recognition software together with face-obscuring masks to make political statements. Since 2016, she has been undertaking a residency at Coventry University where she is using the “Media Eyes” at Birmingham New Street station as a focal point to explore the effect of surveillance on behaviour, particularly focusing on themes of participation and consumption.

This is What a Feminist Looks Like

During the fellowship we will bring together our skills in programming, photography and printmaking and collaboratively examine the increasing collection of audience metrics by surveillance technologies for advertising uses. We intend to further this research by considering resistance scenarios to these technologies and the application of this software into other areas such as threat recognition, art galleries and work spaces.

Remix Party photos

The Remix Party happened on 20th January to celebrate the closing of my exhibition, Permission Taken, at Birmingham Open Media.

Remix Party!

Throughout the night remixes art artwork from the University of Birmingham were displayed in the main gallery space whilst Ryan Hughes took on DJ duties with soundscapes and the occasional R&B hit. It was really interesting to see how all the artists approached the archives and selected materials to work with.

Remix Party!

Thanks to the following artists for taking part in the party:
Dan Hett, Lorna Mills, Ashley James Brown, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Michaël Borras A.K.A. Systaime, Benjamin Berg, Michael Lightborne, Morehshin Allahyari, Daniel Salisbury, Carla Gannis, Faith Holland, Nick Briz, Daniel Temkin, Adam Ferriss, Víctor Arce, Chema Padilla, Kate Spence, Jessica Evans, Emily Haasch.

Remix Party!

All of their remixes will be available online shortly and you’ll even have the chance to make your own! Photos from the party can be seen on Flickr.

Remix Party!

Fin

Permission Taken at Birmingham Open Media officially closed on 23rd January 2016 after opening on October 23rd 2015. It was my first solo exhibition and I’m extremely grateful to Karen Newman/Birmingham Open Media, Clare Mullett/Research and Cultural Collections and Arts Council England for helping it be a great one.

Permission Taken

The next iteration of the exhibition will be coming in March. Until then do check out Common Property at Jerwood Space for more work from myself and other artists following similar themes

Remix Party, 20th January

To celebrate the closing of Permission Taken, on 20th January I’ll be having a closing Remix Party at Birmingham Open Media from 19:00 – 22:00

remixparty

Artwork from over 20 national and international artists will be projected onto BOM’s walls, floors and ceilings in celebration of artists that appropriate, remix and rework. All this set against a backdrop of Copyleft/cut-up music from Ryan Hughes.

Artists include
Dan Hett, Lorna Mills, Ashley James Brown, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Michaël Borras, Benjamin Berg, Michael Lightborne, Morehshin Allahyari, Daniel Salisbury, Carla Gannis, Faith Holland, Nick Briz, Daniel Temkin, Adam Ferriss, Víctor Arce, Chema Padilla, Kate Spence, Jessica Evans, Emily Haasch

During the evening Nomad, the newly opened restaurant next door the the gallery space, will be serving food from their ‘no rules’ pay-what-you-want menu.

Hope you can join in and celebrate remix culture!!!

Pecha Kucha Birmingham, 8th December

On Tuesday 8th December from 18:30 I’ll be taking part in Pecha Kucha Birmingham at Birmingham Open Media.

pkbham

I’ll be delivering a short presentation, Ctrl + C, hat looks at the way that culture is created from copying and remixing. I’ll be presenting alongside awesome people including Linda Spurdle, Francis Clarke, Ian Francis, Daniel Alcorn (who recently interviewed me for the Small Talk podcast) and Ruth Harvey.

Tickets for the event have already sold out but there is a waiting list if you really wanna get in.

Copyleft Workshop, 26th November

On 26th November from 18:00 – 21:00 I’ll be holding the second event as part of my solo exhibition, Permission Taken, at Birmingham Open Media.

Copyleft Workshop

In this workshop I’ll introduce concepts behind the exhibition and my knowledge of copyright gained through undertaking a CopyrightX course.

This session encourages artists to think critically about how Copyleft concepts could be applied to their own practice.

Places are free but limited, to reserve places please get in contact.

Archive Remix prints

The Archive Remix print pieces are a continuation of the remix pictures that I have been making as part of my residency at the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections. The content that I have been making for that has focused on what can be lost when restrictive copyright is enforced. In keeping more with the themes of this exhibition the Archive Remix print pieces focus on the effect of corporate branding on imagery.

Archive Remix

The most central imagery consists of 3D scans of artefacts from the archives of Research and Cultural Collections. These then become obscured amongst the visual barrage of slightly distorted corporate branding, something which might not seem so visible at first.

Archive Remix

Copy Bomb

The Copy Bombs are my way of contributing to the free culture movemnt by encouraging the public to share images, audio, text and video in an unhindered way.

Copy Bomb

The Copy Bombs are, at their heart, PirateBox installations.

PirateBox creates offline wireless networks designed for anonymous file sharing, chatting, message boarding, and media streaming. You can think of it as your very own portable offline Internet in a box!

When users join the PirateBox wireless network and open a web browser, they are automatically redirected to the PirateBox welcome page. Users can anonymously chat, post images or comments on the bulletin board, watch or listen to streaming media, or upload and download files inside their web browser.

By building these sculptures (well, I employed Matthew James Moore to make them) I aim to give more of a physical presence to the wifi network. It serves as an object to signal that media can be shared freely within the vicinity. Due to being powered by battery (which can last nearly three days) these can be located anywhere.

In practical terms to use the Copy Bomb only a browser is needed, which can be on a mobile or desktop OS. A user needs to join the CopyBomb Alpha/Beta/Gamma network and then point their browser to http://copybomb.lan. They will be redirected to the sharing site, which is a PirateBox with the theme/CSS changed.

Copy Bomb

Once there they can browse the current contents or upload their own. I have hand picked content from the following online open archives:

In addition to this there is content from the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections and my own archive of previous artworks.

The content from the public archives was chosen based on how easy it could be to remix and modify it. So, many of the items can easily be isolated from their backgrounds and used in other projects.