Posts Tagged ‘sheffield’

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Nerds and geeks and dorks, oh my! – The New Ridicules

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Martyn Eggleton of Access Space, Sheffield, UK wears it with pride.

According to Wikipedia Nerd is a derogatory slang term for a person typically described as intellectual, socially-impaired, and obsessive … A synonym is geek, though some believe it is less derogatory. Another synonym is “dork,” but it doesn’t suggest any intellectual aspects.”

In a world awash with technology, it’s hard not to get involved, but I have always been interested in computers, which I guess makes me a nerd. My introduction to programming was on a borrowed BBC Micro back in 1982, and I taught myself to program in BBC BASIC with an incomplete user manual.
http://www.proudnerd.com/

Later on I had a ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, various Apple Macintoshes, Windows PCs and now Linux PCs. So I suppose I’m also a geek.

More recently, these colloquial insults have been adopted by their targets and are now treated as badges of honour. GeekUp is a “grassroots knowledge sharing and networking social for folks involved or interested in the web and technology industry.” and we have a branch here in Sheffield, UK.
http://geekup.org/

Even the word dork, which was traditionally more insulting, has been reclaimed by people “doing strange things with electricity”. So I guess I’m a dork now too.
http://www.dorkbot.org/

Recently, I have been spending a lot of time at Access Space, Sheffield, UK, researching and developing software tools for streamlining my post-production timelapse workflow. This overlaps significantly with the collaborative documentary project, Flying Monkey TV, that I started with artist Matt Lewis in 2010.
http://flyingmonkey.tv
http://access-space.org

We’ve had a few false starts to the project, but in partnership with Access Space (one of NESTA’s “New Radicals”), I am making progress.
http://www.nesta.org.uk/news_and_features/britains_new_radicals

One line of investigation is using UNIX / Linux libraries on legacy Mac computers. I have a handful at home, doing nothing, and am interested to see if they can be used as workhorse machines for post-processing timelapse image captures. What interests me in Linux is not for the sake of it but the idea that I can leverage a lot of computer power cheaply, efficiently and legally.

The geek in me wants to see if it’s practical, the dork in me is stubborn enough to do it even if it’s not, and the nerd in me wants to tell everyone about it.
http://macports.org
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ports/releases/hardy/release/
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ports/releases/lucid/release/

Other derogatory monikers that may be appropriate are noob, dweeb and spod “one who wastes time on nonproductive activities online.”

I suppose I’m also a bit of a spod, although I am less proud of that, but dweeb sounds almost lovable, and as far as Linux is concerned, I’m definitely a noob.

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Sharp Knives and Blunt Instruments – The Bash Street Monkeys

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2012 by Admin Tagged: , , , , ,

Recently, I decided to get back into programming. I used to be a computer programmer but have been a bit out of the loop for the past 10 years, although I’ve dabbled with various tools.
Having started to dip my toes back in the water it seems that everything has changed and remained exactly the same. Reassuringly, the principles of programming are exactly the same, although a lot of the detail has changed. But the most radical change is access to resources. The internet is awash with examples, tutorials and discussions.

At one time, visual programming seemed to be the way forward, and there are some excellent tools out there, including Max/MSP/Jitter, but the utilities I need to create require something more basic.
cycling74.com

At a recent panel discussion in The Showroom Cinema, entitled The Beauty of Digital, James Wallbank, CEO of Access Space, Sheffield, UK, compared the relative utility of the Swiss army knife and its British counterpart, and how this comparison works as a critical metaphor in the digital world.
The British knife has only 3 blades: a sharp knife, a bottle / can opener and a marlinspike. The marlinspike is what we always refer to as “that thing for getting stones out of horses’ hooves”. However, as James pointed out, it is actually a tool from world of ropework and is used for undoing knots. It’s a spike, but not sharp-ended.
http://www.creativetimes.co.uk/events/the-beauty-of-digital-4-new-technologies-old-aesthetics-and-where-the-two-meet

The picture above shows my own pocket knife which is small and elegant, but the scissors are only just strong enough to cut thin cardboard and the blade does not lock, so you’re in danger of of losing your pinky if you try to cut with it. I rarely use the nail file.
For my purposes, the software development equivalent of the miniature scissors is Apple Automator. Every time I have attempted to use it I have found it is missing the one function that I need. I’m sure it is invaluable for some purposes but not for me.

My blunt instrument of choice is Bash aka the UNIX shell, and it can be compared to the marlinspike, currently absent from my all-purpose toolset. Sometimes it’s necessary to just get the knot untied, even if it’s not a pretty sight.
With digital video, shooting is easy, and that’s the problem. It’s too easy to accumulate hundreds of gigabytes of media, but publishing it in a useful form is very difficult, and this is where all that redundant technology comes in.
UNIX, in the form of the free, open-source Linux, will run on pretty much any old computer and can give machines that cannot run current operating systems a new lease of life as workhorses. Software libraries such as gPhoto2, FFMpeg, mencoder, transcode, ImageMagick etc are amazingly powerful, but you’ve got to get your hand dirty and learn how to program them, rather than just checking options.

My first attempt at installing Linux on an old PowerMac G4 comprised 2 hours of mostly waiting as the installer downloaded software, then a further 4 hours failing to get it to work with the monitor. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Fortunately, my heart is not faint, and I am getting a lot of help from Access Space. Also, there are easier ways of accessing these libraries using the OS X Terminal and Macports.
macports.org
access-space.org

My own aim is to develop a range of utility programs for automatically capturing, compiling and publishing media so that it can be accessed quickly and meaningfully, and this is what Flying Monkey TV is all about.
flyingmonkey.tv

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Access Space, Sheffield, UK – One of NESTA’s New Radicals 2012

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2012 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Volunteer Access Spacers and staff in full swing, recycling, re-using and re-purposing.

It’s a terrible irony that Access Space, Sheffield, UK, has finally been recognised for its contribution but has had its funding cut by Arts Council England.

Access Space has just been named one of 50 “New Radicals” by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) in partnership with the Observer newspaper, identified as organisations who are making Britain a better place to live an work.
Nesta’s 50  New Radicals 2012

I first went into Access Space in 2001 to collect some obsolete BBC Micros for artist Paul Granjon to use in an installation for Lovebytes. Since that day, I have had a continued relationship with Access Space, scrounging hardware, visiting their shows, attending workshops and showing my own artwork there too.
It’s very easy to walk past their building and not know that they are there at all, and their low profile belies the enormous impact the organisation has had. They provide open internet access to anyone, and run a programme of free events, exhibitions and workshops.

Here are just two examples of how Access Space has supported me.

In 2004 they provided me with a group of compact Apple Mac computers that allowed me to create my series of HyperScape generative works. These would simply not have happened otherwise, and this led me to be invited to exhibit and visit the Electrohype Biennial in Malmö, Sweden in 2004, and again in Göteborg in 2005.

HyperScape 1 being installed in the Malmo Konsthall, Sweden in 2004 (left). HyperScape V (top right) and HyperScape IV (bottom right) in Access Space, Sheffield, UK.

In 2011 I was awarded a Small Research & Development Bursary to progress electronics and software development towards external camera triggers for capturing timelapse video. I spent 8 days working at Access Space and progressed my project significantly.
fmtvmissinglink.wordpress.com

A number of my own projects would not have happened at all without Access Space, and after many years of receiving support from them, I am trying to bring something back into the space. Here is a promo video I made using timelapse shot during one of their computer recycling marathons. Most of the people you see are volunteers, paid only with pizza, and give their time freely.

Their website is here:
Access Space, Sheffield, UK.

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Blue Monday – Reasons to be cheerful in Sheffield

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2012 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

This January is the first time I heard the term “Blue Monday” attached to the third Monday in January, “officially” the most depressing day of the year. Apparently, the cold weather, short days and post-Christmas come-down combine to make January particularly depressing. Not for me. I had a fantastic day. Inspired by the beautifully clear and frosty sub-zero temperatures, on Monday 16th January 2012 I decided to walk the entire route of the Sheffield Round Walk. I live close to Meersbrook Park (above), which is on the route, and am lucky that the 14 mile circular route brings me back home.

Sheffield Round Walk connects several parks, green spaces and woodlands in the southern part of the city, and takes you all the way out to the edge of the Peak District at Ringinglow. It’s a full day’s walk and it’s best to do it on a long Spring or Summer day, rather than in the middle of January, so that you can stop a bit more than I did. Sheffield is widely known for being built on seven hills (like Rome), and as England’s greenest city. It is also famous for the highest stay-on rate for university students moving here to study, and you can see why.

I’ve done the Round Walk many times before but never in such amazing weather conditions. Here are a few high dynamic range (HDR) photos of my walk. There are more photos of Sheffield and many other places on my Flickr account.

There are maps of the Sheffield Round Walk route on the official website, and a guide book can be ordered from there too.
sheffieldroundwalk.co.uk

In no particular order, here are just a few of my other favourite things about Sheffield.

Sheffield Live! 93.2 FM community radio station – number 1 slot on my car radio.
sheffieldlive.org

Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum – an umbrella organisation promoting the fine art scene in Sheffield, which has the largest number of artist’s studios outside London.
artsheffield.org

Peak District National Park – Britain’s first National Park. Over 500 square miles of moorland, hills, woodland and dales.
peakdistrict.gov.uk

Showroom Cinema – the second largest independent cinema in the country and one of the few cinemas still showing both digital and film formats.
showroomworkstation.org.uk

Sheffield Theatres – the largest theatre complex outside London, including The Crucible, one of the world’s finest thrust stages.
sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Tramlines Free Music Festival – winner of the Best UK Metropolitan Festival at the UK Festival Awards 2011.
tramlines.org.uk

Stay frosty.

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It’s a toilet invasion! – Pixelwitch JaQ’s Latrino Boyz

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jacqui Bellamy aka Pixelwitch JaQ has a secret obsession with shooting beautiful people in toilet cubicles.

After three series of Latrino Gals, here are some stills and behind-the-scenes video from the first series of Latrino Boyz. The good, the bad and the fabulous from the music, arts and creative scenes around Sheffield and beyond.


There is a 2012 calendar available and the prints will be exhibited at the Rutland Arms, Sheffield, UK from 11th December 2011.
rutlandarmspeople.co.uk

Contact latrinoboyz@gmail.com.

Special thanks go to The Common Room, Sheffield, UK for allowing us to use the ladies.
latrinogals.co.uk
common-room.co.uk

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Through the eye of a duck (this must be the place).

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Here are some examples from my first test of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. I am using it on an EOS 550D digital SLR and so is equivalent to an 80mm lens on a full-frame 35mm equivalent sensor. It’s known to perform well beyond its price range.

If you click on the close-ups, you will see the 1:1 version at actual size. You can clearly see me and the geese reflected in the turkey’s eye. Below is the full captured frame.

All these images are post-processed with Adobe Photoshop, using the Topaz Adjust plug-in to enhance the perception of detail, and also sharpened a little. However, software cannot add detail although it can increase your perception of it. all the detail is in the original shot and there is no substitute for good lenses.

Larry the Llama

These shots were taken at the rare breeds farm at Graves Park, Sheffield, UK. I think the turkey is the best of the shots and the goose the least good, but all very successful for a grey day and a bit of random shooting with a new lens.

Graves Park, Sheffield, UK
gravesparksheffield.info
Canon Camera
Canon.co.uk
Topaz Adjust
topazlabs.com

p.s. None of these animals are ducks.

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More Cake & Less Movement – Doc vs Promo

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

New Manor Ware by Frances Priest

Here are two edits of a documentary video I have just completed for Edinburgh-based artist Frances Priest. She has just completed a residency at Yorkshire Artspace’s Manor Oaks Studios and the video was commissioned to document her work and cover an event at Sheffield Manor Lodge, UK.

The Turret House at Sheffield Manor Lodge

We originally agreed to make a subtle documentary edit with primarily timelapse video and sound design. However, the event was such a success, and the live video so good, I decided to make more of a promo edit that attempts to represent the event and all the organisations involved.

However, we agreed that an alternative edit, closer to the original brief, would be more in keeping with Frances’ existing online presence. “More cake and less movement” was my direction.

Both versions were made with the same material but edited very differently.
francespriest.co.uk
artspace.org.uk
manorlodge.org.uk

New Manor Ware is an artwork by Frances Priest, commissioned by Yorkshire Artspace, UK. The designs are based on elements from the ceiling in the banqueting room of The Turret House (1574) at Sheffield Manor Lodge.

The time-lapse was captured using the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) using Canon PowerShot A560 compact cameras. The still photography was shot on a Canon EOS SLR and post-processed with Photomatix Pro from 3 exposures.

Camera and edit by Richard Bolam.
richardbolam.net

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Double Exposure – The Art of Commerce

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunrise at The Quadrant, Sheffield, UK

I am both a commercial media producer and a fine artist. As an artist, my ambition is to make beautiful, meaningful and lasting work for a general audience. I make my work for the world-at-large and I see no conflict of interests in being a commercial artist and also a fine artist. In fact, this is a very traditional approach, and I see myself as a traditionalist, although I use very modern technology and techniques.

This week has seen success for me in both worlds with my work being acknowledged as a commercial success and also being selected for an international film festival.

Still from The Quadrant video promo

Recently, I completed a job for The Quadrant, a managed workspace in Sheffield, UK, and this is a good example of how the two worlds of art and commerce can benefit from each other. I was commissioned to make a commercial promotional video and was given 24-hour access to their building. I saw an opportunity to make something of my own at the same time. Not instead of, but as well as.

I have been experimenting with techniques to capture high dynamic range (HDR) time-lapse video since 2008 and I saw an opportunity to test my workflow. I shot a number of views of the building as the sun moved during the day, and used the open-source Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) to enable Canon PowerShot compact cameras to shoot multiple-exposure time-lapse. For the promo I mixed these shots with other timelapse shots of activity within the building. The Quadrant are very happy with the promo I made for them, particularly as it is markedly different from the usual commercial promo, and this is what an artist can bring to a project, a high degree of innovation and a different way of looking at the world. Here is the finished video, music by Laurence Alexander:

I used the clips of HDR time-lapse to make a completely separate piece of work that is an artwork rather than a promo. This is part of an ongoing body of work called “The Secret Life of Buildings” and is a collection of video works that attempt to capture the essence of the building, rather than to simply document it.

Still from The Secret Life of Buildings #6

This work has been selected to be shown at the Chronos 2011 Film Festival of time-lapse, slow-motion and stop-motion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and here is The Secret Life of Buildings #6 with music by Erik Satie, played by BL Underwood:

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Electric Works, Sheffield, UK – High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , ,

Electric Works is an office space in Sheffield, UK, catering for creative, digital and media businesses. Here is a link to some high dynamic range (HDR) shots I took on the unseasonably warm and sunny first day of October 2011. Post-processed with Photomatix Pro.
electric-works.net

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Portrait of the Artist in Residence

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

I am currently artist-in-residence at Banks Street Arts in Sheffield, UK.
You can follow my progress on the blog here.
And I have a Facebook page here.
http://bankstreetarts.com/