New York – New YorkSeptember 26

In September I had an extended trip to New York, following an invitation by the Austrian Cultural Forum to talk and perform with the Reactable at the Moving Sounds Festival. After an initial podium discussion on improvisation in music together with George Lewis amongst others, I finally met Peter Kirn for our joint concert playing on the Reactable together with mobile instruments such as the CrackleBox and the MeeBlip synthesizer. Peter later also organized an online workshop at the Dubspot DJ school, where we talked more in detail about our instruments in front of an expert audience.

Before the actual festival started I had the chance to attend the Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire which were by lucky coincidence taking place at the New York Hall of Science during my visit. Also on Monday my colleague Sabine Seymour invited me to give a guest lecture at the Parsons School for Design. During that busy week I am glad that I also managed to visit the abundant Talk to Me exhibition at the MoMA.

dead pixel artJune 25

Urban Screensaver Example To be honest I have been an initial admirer of interactive media facades ever since I got aware of Blinkenlights and the Clickscape projects. During the last decade the topic has become mainstream though, leading to the construction of media facades in many “second cities” around the world aiming to catch up with the information age. There now even exists an European Media Facade Festival, dedicated to the production of actual artistic content for the usually commercially used large scale displays, but most of the proposals hardly exceed the aesthetics of screen savers and iTunes sound visualizations. Although the topic still seems to be extremely attractive amongst young media artists, it has become time to take action against the inflationary installation of urban screen savers!

Electromagnetic Pulse Gun Dead pixel art is a new form of digital reverse graffiti, which allows the appropriation of urban displays through the active disabling of selected pixels. For this purpose I am planning to employ a directed high-energy EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) gun, which temporarily or permanently disrupts the electronic circuitry of an individual pixel element when pointing at it. This will allow the drawing of permanently visible black voids within any displayed animation, leading eventually to the complete destruction of the whole display.

A similar approach using different techniques can also be applied to CRT or LCD screens through the destruction of selected pixels, resulting in the permanent display of the applied dead pixel art. While this may be mostly interesting for information guerilla in a public screen context, such as ATM machines or info terminals, it can also be used for the personalization of individual devices.

Call for applicationsMay 20

The Interface Culture Lab at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz/Austria provides an internationally oriented master program in Interactive Media Arts. The two-year program, which is entirely organized in English language, is open to prospective students with multidisciplinary backgrounds integrating art, design, science and technology.

We are currently accepting new students for the master class of the upcoming academic year 2010/11 and would therefore like to point you to the online registration form, which will be open until June 18th 2010. The application interviews will take place in Linz on June 30th or alternatively on September 7th during the Ars Electronica Festival.

LiWoLi2010 – The Art of Doing it TogetherApril 9

Next week this year’s edition of the LiWoLi 2010 will again take place at the University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz. From April 15-17 there will be several talks, discussions and workshops around open source communities and technologies in the context of artistic production and teaching practice. I will also hold a TUIO workshop on Open Tools for Tangible Interaction, there are still a few places left if you are interested in that topic and happen to be around in Linz that time. There are several more workshops held by key developers of Pure Data and Open Frameworks for example, and the rest of the activities around the general practice of open source within artistic communities is also quite promising.

Prof. for Interface Culture in LinzJanuary 22

During this semester I will hold an interim position as Professor for Interface Culture at the University of Arts in Linz, appointed to act for Prof. Sommerer & Prof. Mignonneau during their sabbatical leave. The Interface Culture Lab looks back to an exciting history of five years leading to the establishment of one of the most innovative master programs for digital arts in Austria. Apart from managing the continuity of the master program and student activities I am planning to give an impulse towards the research in human computer interaction and the development of open tools for creative production during my stay. Our new team is completed by senior researcher Dr. Georg Russegger, who will be responsible for the research towards a new European master program in Ludic Interfaces.

Roboexotica 2009 – top of the botsDecember 4

Well, it is pretty difficult to stay sober at Roboexotica. Back from the opening at the old Drinkomat factory in Vienna, I am still excited by the overall quality and fun-factor of this cocktail bot exhibition. There is an award ceremony planned by the end of this week, but I reckon it will be rather hard to choose the best submission. Here are my favourites starting with last year’s winning installation “Pressoir de la Fee” or Fairy Juice Squeezer, an amazing electro-mechanical device that is capable to squeeze a tiny amount of green alcoholic juice from a fairy trapped within the device.

As you can obviously guess from its name, “Plasmastaub” is set up within a kind of spaghetti western saloon bar, where one has to arm-wrestle against the robotic bartender, who will subsequently fill and toss a glass of whisky over the bar, which is not that easy to catch actually. The “Facehugger” is an alien creature, which attacks selected visitors who are tied-up on a bed within a closed room. Apparently the lucky victims eventually can suck some liquor from an alien rubber vagina monster which drops onto their face. The “loaded question” installation on the other hand manages to place the shot (more or less) directly into the mouth of its customer … from a distance well over a meter. Bartris is a modified version of the classic Tetris game, where the composition of different block colours that are eliminated within a row, determines the final ratio of a drink made of rum, coke and water. The “Miraculous Stigmatatron” – a crucified steampunk Jesusbot – is capable of turning water into wine. But I still don’t believe … even if it happens to reboot after three days. And finally the “Corps Reviver” is a beautifully crafted alchemist machine, mixing a nicely cooled alcoholic potion in perfect proportions.

metalab viennaJune 16

The metalab is Vienna’s most active hacklab, where people meet up and work on their various hardware, software and other community projects. It seems to be a quite open place, they offer a membership program, which allows people to take advantage of the quite advanced infrastructure, but apparently they are even allowing non-members to participate. Last weekend the lab celebrated its 3rd anniversary with an exhibition showing most of the work that has been done during the last three years. Of course they have their own 3D printer, but other fun projects which caught my attention were the robotflowr and an interesting LED device that allowed writing on fluorescent paper. And they even showed a performancer table based on reacTIVision, what a surprise!
After talking to a bunch of nice people, we agreed that I will do a presentation there for the next Dorkbot Vienna on Sunday June 28th.

Back from PortugalMay 15

Since my web server (hosted by kooperative.at) was upgraded last week, here follows my delayed report on my last trip to Portugal. Before attending the OFFF festival in Oeiras, I had the chance to meet the people from ALTlab, an emerging hacklab community in Lisbon, dedicated to open hardware projects. Currently they are working on the PAPERduino and they are also planning to build there own 3D printer, based on the open Reprap design. Unfortunately I was only able to attend half of the OFFF presentations, but I particularly was impressed by the talks of Karsten Schmidt and Aaron Koblin, two of the most creative innovators in the visualisation scene. Karsten aka toxi is also the author of a nice fiducial generator application that can be used with reacTIVision. The really remarkable music program at OFFF was mostly covered by the guys from the raster noton label.

The TronsMay 3

Yesterday I got the chance to see the robot band The Trons live at the Time’s Up lab at the harbour in Linz. The Trons have been brought to life by Greg Locke from New Zealand, who is currently touring around Europe with his creation. The band consists of four mechanical robots playing bass, guitar, drums and keyboard in a very particular style. Also the overall aesthetic design of the robot stage presence is quite remarkable. Check out this video on Youtube to see yourself.

Dorkbot LinzMarch 27

Yesterday I attended the second dorkbot meeting in Linz and I have been quite impressed by the active international media art community which has been formed in this city. The most remarkable presentations have been robotcowboy by Dan Wilcox (a head mounted imac audiovisual performance instrument), then with.in by Damian Stewart and Tine Papendick (a work in progress report about an interactive video puppet project) and finally the hilarious ican by Christian Vogel.