Shadows of Light at ICT2013

Shadows of Light at ICT2013
Shadows of Light at ICT2013
November 2013

ICT2013 was held in Vilnius, Lithuania and Alex May was part of the “ICT & Art Connect” team, where he exhibited “Shadows of Light” and co-hosted a “My New Robot Companion” robot head making workshop with Anna Dumitriu.

ICT & ART Connect sets out to bring together artists and technologists to explore new ways of working. Collaborative acts of co-creation, together with an open and multidisciplinary discussion, will foster the bringing together of art and technology.

The initiative stems from the EU FP7 funded support action FET-ART, addressing the FET (Future Emerging Technologies) objective of the FP7 ICT Theme.

The project partnership includes Sigma Orionis (coordinator), Brunel University, Stichting Waag Society, Stromatolite and BCC.

ICT & Art Connect Team at ICT2013
ICT & Art Connect Team at ICT2013

Our stand won an award as the favourite exhibition stand of cluster 5 – Culture, science and creativity,

ICT & Art Connect stand receiving Best Booth Award at ICT2013
ICT & Art Connect stand receiving Best Booth Award at ICT2013

Painting With Light in Caracas Venezuela

The British Council arranged for Alex May to run a two day Painting With Light workshop in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela.
The British Council arranged for Alex May to run a two day Painting With Light workshop in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela.

Caracas is a tropical and vibrant capital city overlooked by the imposing Ávila mountain to the north.  Cable cars and power lines thread across the roofs and up the steep mountainside from where the poorer barrios neighbourhoods nestle at the edges.  These makeshift dwellings are beautiful to look at from a distance, with brightly painted exteriors by day, and forming sprawling blankets of lights by night.

There is an infectious intensity to the city and its people.  Proud of its heroes and in political furore emerging from the mourning for its leader, there are shortages and protests, and regular reminders of guns, drugs, and crime, where petrol is cheaper than water, here in the third most dangerous city in the world.

Looking north west across Caracas to the Ávila mountain
Looking north west across Caracas to the Ávila mountain

This dark fact is unfortunate, but with the diligence and care of the British Council it was not in the least apparent during the visit.  It’s not the first time I’ve been somewhere for the purposes of art where care must be taken (I was in Cairo when the second revolution started) though here I was advised not to leave the hotel unless by arranged car.

I was first invited to give an introductory talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art to explain a little about my artistic practise and Painting With Light.  Afterwards I met some people who sadly hadn’t been able to get places in the workshop as it had been somewhat oversubscribed.

Painting With Light at Museum of Modern Art Caracas

I then met the participants and we spent the first day of the workshop getting to know each other a little and learning the various features of the software.  While the talk had simultaneous translation, the workshop required two diligent translators taking shifts, which slowed proceedings down though with patience all round we got through a long day.

For the second day of the workshop, I invited the participants to think about what aspect of Caracas was most aesthetically interesting to them.  Some chose the architecture, others the flow of people and the transportation routes, and others chose nature.  Groups were formed between people with common interests, and we then visited the gallery space inside the museum where we would be creating an video mapped installation for show to the public that night.

The packing crates had just returned from transporting an exhibition of Venezuelan art around the world, and now we would make them into art themselves!

Each group spent the afternoon organising and creating video content before we moved downstairs and set up the projectors.

As the groups began to map video onto the crates, they formed single installation: an impression of Caracas from different viewpoints by the participants, as people who live and work here.

I used a single video projector off to the side to fill in any areas where there were gaps between the groups projections.

We let the public in to see the finished installation and while I sidled off to the bar for a well deserved glass of wine, several of the participants kept working and adding to their projections.

It was a fantastic experience to be given the opportunity to visit Caracas and run a workshop there.  Everyone was very friendly and enthusiastic about the Painting With Light project, and it was very exciting to work together with the participants to create an installation together in such a wonderful venue.

I would like to say a few thank you’s to:

VJ and Video Artist Ionee Waterhouse for the initial invitation and liaising with the British Council

To the British Council for facilitating my visit, especially Andreina Gómez for organising and looking after everything while I was in Caracas.

To the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, especially Auramarina Lazarde, for their time and facilities.

To the British Ambassador and Director of the British Council in Venezuela for their time and hospitality.

And to all the participants of the workshop who I hope enjoyed it and will go on to create more marvellous video mapping art.  I look forward to seeing what you all get up to!

My New Robot Companion at Bletchley Park

HARR1 in the Bletchley Park mansion library
HARR1 in the Bletchley Park mansion library

November 9th and 10th, 2013

As an additional event to the Intuition and Ingenuity exhibition taking place at Hut 12 in Bletchley Park, HARR1 (Humanoid Art Research Robot 1) was exhibited alongside research robots from the University of Hertfordshire in the Bletchley Park mansion library.

Visitors were invited to “meet” the robots and the researchers and learn about the various projects currently being undertaken at UoH.

They also encountered HARR1, the ongoing art project by UoH artists in residence Alex May and Anna Dumitriu, who are visiting research fellows with the computer science department.

During the Second World War, Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom’s main decryption establishment, the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), where ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted, most importantly the ciphers generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines.

My New Robot Companion: HARR1 at Watermans

HARR1 - My Robot Companion

The latest incarnation of the “My New Robot Companion” project is now on show at Watermans in Kew, London until the 23rd of October.

Normally, robots do not move unless they are performing a task, HARR1 (Humanoid Art Research Robot 1) is designed to fidget and move almost continuously, more like humans do.

Also HARR1 exhibits boredom.  If you move around in front of HARR1, it will look at you, but if you stop moving, it will get bored and go back to aimlessly looking around the room.

“My New Robot Companion” is an ongoing collaboration between Alex May and Anna Dumitriu as part of their artistic residency with the computer science department of the University of Hertfordshire, that explores our relationship with robotics, specifically robots in the home.  It was funded by the University of Hertfordshire and Arts Council England.