I found out recently about an excellent project: The Clearing, A Report From The Future by Alex Hartley and Tom James. They “set out to build a living, breathing encampment where people could learn how to live in the collapsing world coming our way.”
In 2017 they constructed with the help of volunteers a geodesic dome from scavenged materials and for several months invited people to workshops on skills that might be useful in the future (fire making, bread oven, democracy, radio, loo…).
Public engagement was very rich and a temporary community of sorts emerged. The artists have published a full report on the experience, photocopied by hand, with a cover made from used cardboard boxes. I recommend this informative and inspiring read.
A year after the end of the clearing, Hartley and James wrote that “the more time we spent at The Clearing, the better we felt. The Clearing made us feel hopeful, and confident, and capable, and even happy. Perhaps this is how it could be in the future> Softer and simpler and slower. Perhaps the end of this world, and the beginning of a new one, could even be good?”
On the last day of the Superfreight exhibition I ran an Insect Buzz Workshop.
As seen in the exhibition, the Insect Buzz are hand held placards that buzz quite loud when their button is pressed. They are to be used in ecological protests and other opportunities where the user wants to remind others that insects are disappearing rapidly and that we will be in big trouble when they are gone.
Participants made a cool variety of Insect Buzzes. I would like to get 50+ made to run a swarm during ecological protests. Contact me if you would like to make your own Insect Buzz and take it to the streets
Come and make your own Insect Buzz electronic placard to take to the streets in this 2 hours workshop. Only 10 spaces on the workshop, £3 recommended donation towards the cost of parts. Bring your own acrylic and emulsion paint leftovers, and paintbrushes if you have any.
“SUPERFREIGHT is an exhibition of work from four artists; Nadja Buttendorf, Paul Granjon, Dina Kelberman and Ian Watson, exploring how we live with, exchange and use technology in creating culture.”
Thus goes the blurb for a group show in Arcade Campfa, Cardiff UK where I have two new works: a set of 4 Insect Buzz electronic placards and The Future, an installation where people can air their views about the future by writing on the wall, talking at a special table, and listening to a strange talking flower thing.
Nadja Buttendorf and Sabrina Labis are showing 360º Nail, a slightly disturbing video featuring a fingernail-mounted action camera.
Ian Watson built a one-off stand out of self-made polystyrene pebbles where a vintage monitor plays a deep glitch text monologue with a groovy 80s video pixel vibe.
Dina Kelberman presents two artworks: I’m Google is a scrollable collection of found web images that deal with buildings, tech, domestic, DIY, and The Goal is to Live, a mesmerizing video collating segments of the well-known TV program How Things are Made.
Doodlebot workshop for kids in Barbican London, 23rd and 24th November, free! Just drop in between 10:00 and 16:00. Part of the Life Rewired season. Anybody aged 7+ can attend and take their Doodlebot home.
Next up in December, a 3 hours upcycling challenge for students in the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. 11 teams are each given a PC tower to cannibalise and an Arduino to make an interactive module for some corner of the buiding.
And the seasonal Disobedient Objects project running until Christmas in Cardiff School of Art and Design. Photo below of a 40 minutes task: make a wearable device to defeat face recognition algorithms.
I have had the pleasure of inviting artists duo Carolin Liebl and Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler for a 3 weeks residency in the FabLab at Cardiff School of Art and Design, as part of the EASTN-DC European research project in digital creativity. Carolin and Nikolas have now returned to their hometown Offenbach, Germany, after 3 weeks in the FabLab and my studio. They have been busy, started experimenting with the Formlabs 3D printers and 3D scanners. They started by making charging pods for their Sibling robots and printed nature-inspired shapes.
They gradually realised that they were not interested so much in printing 3D sculptural forms as they were in inventing their own way of printing objects with plastic, preferably recycled from faulty prints or plastic bottles. They came up with the idea of making a mobile robot that would at times extrude rough plastic shapes in its environment. They started by removing the printhead from a discarded Makerbot Replicator, drilled new holes in the extrusion nozzle and designed a control circuit. After successful testing they put the assembly on a custom mobile chassis with vibrating legs.
In parallel they also made from scratch a prototype extruder, a precursor for the printing engine of their larger robot. They got inspiration from the great plastic recycling instructions provided by Precious Plastics. After a couple of days working in the metal shop at CSAD the extruder was ready to go. It is a heated tube inside which an endless screw rotates slowly, pushing melting plastic towards the extruding end. Early tests took place on the last evening of their residency, where the screw spun, the heaters heated and pieces of plastic bottles melted, a promising start!!
Image above: the first “print” from the extruder, made of recycled PET bottles.
Carolin and Nikolas will continue working on the plastic sculptor robot in their studio, ready for exhibition for the Cardiff EASTN-DC Festival in March 2021. We are really looking forward to see them back with their robot!
Extinction Rebellion UK organised 2 weeks of International Rebellion from October 7 to 19 2019. Bristol and Wales groups joined forces to run a busy Artblockers shop, printing animal and XR logos with woodblocks and screen printing ink on any piece of clothing or fabric.
I took a couple of rotas at the shop on 10 and 11 when it was on Trafalgar Square. The work was pleasant, people being generally well happy with their custom rebel outfits, donating generously before walking away with a smile. A nice way to spread the word and a good use of art in protest.
FabCre8 is a research group of Cardiff School of Art and Design, focusing on creative technologies and digital fabrication. Severla micro-grants were allocated to members of the group in 2016-17 for research and development. The exhibition features work by Ingrid Murphy, Jon Pigott, Aidan Taylor, myself and other members of staff.
I am showing two Mudbots that were developed as a direct application of Power of the Mud, my FabCre8 experiments with microbial fuel cells. Also on display are four recently made Insect Buzz objects.
The sounding, wearable objects are to be used in marches and events in support of an ecological society. The Insect Buzz prototypes are being developed as part of the EASTN-DC European research project. Early versions were tested in Extinction Rebellion and Strike for Climate protests in Cardiff.
The good people of the Deershed have invited me again for supervising the execution of several hundred kilos of obsolete consumer electronics by several hundred children (12 at a time maximum). The operation is called a Wrekshop and takes place in the Science Tent of the family friendly Deershed Festival 10 in Topcliffe North Yorkshire UK from 26th to 28th July.
In the Science Tent this year for the first time: Sam Battle, of youtube fame as Look Mum No Computer, is the inventor of the Furby Organ, the Flamethrowing Henry Hoover and he plays a giant analog synth in his lab. I am looking forward to meet this interesting man and his creations!