Creative Waves 2

Creative Waves 2 - VIP

Omnium, the research group that I am part of (now online) in Australia, has just launched its next ‘Creative Waves’ global e-learning project ‘Visualising Issues of Pharmacy’.

The ‘VIP’ project is the first fully online international education initiative designed to link students and teachers in pharmacy and Graphic Design departments from universities and colleges around the world, and will challenge a diverse body of students and educators to address important global health issues that are of critical concern in Kenya. These include malaria, tuberculosis, immunisation and sexually transmitted diseases.

I’ll be taking part in this one too and it’s great to see some of the philosophy behind the Omnium Creative Network coming together with the educational aspect of Omnium. The details are below:

April – June 2007

More info and sign up on the Creative Waves website.

Drunk Deutsche Bahn Icons

Sober DB icons  Drunk DB Signs

Click to enlarge the images

For a while I’ve been meaning to photograph this – unfortunately I only got them with my grainy mobile camera. On some of the older, regional German trains the warning sign transfers on the windows have peeled off and slipped between the double-glazed windows.

Deutsche Bahn have put new ones up, but sometimes the ones that have fallen are pretty amusing little scenes. I like this one because it looks like the guy got boozed up, leaned out of the window and lost his head.

(Whilst we’re at it, why do they need a specific “don’t chuck bottles out of the window” sign?)

The Computer Behind Playpen

playpen laptop

Okay, it’s not really the server behind Playpen, but it is the machine on which I write most of it. Iain had the nice (and as it turned out simultaneous idea) to start a Flickr group of Computers Behind Blogs.

So, here’s mine from my Desk in Weimar. I seem to have been travelling so much recently that a more apt photo might be on a German train.

Anyway, it surprised me how interesting it was in the end actually – there are several people that I know and correspond with only though online connections, so it’s quite fascinating to see a little peek into their lives.

Bluetooth Arduino Boards

Chris O’Shea from Pixelsumo just mailed to remind me that the Bluetooth version of the Arduino boards comes out on Monday and are available here. The Arduino boards provide an easy analogue/digital interface as well as being able to be stand-alone units not needing a computer. They are also easily coded with Processing.

Arduino BT board

Documentation seems a little hard to find on it at the moment though but there is some stuff on Massimo’s blog. The main features are:

  • Bluegiga WT11 Bluetooth module. This is not just another bluetooth to serial module but it sports a lot of cool features like the ability to build a small network of Arduino Bluetooth, sending and receiving objects to mobile phones, looking for bluetooth devices around itself and talking to them and it’s class 1! this means that it can communicate to a distance of 100m instead of the classic 10m (theoretically then it depends on where you are broadcasting and a lot of other factors).
  • New power supply. This is using a dc-dc converter used in portable consumer electronics and can be used to power Arduino Bluetooth with batteries down to 3v. Two AAA batteries will get you going for a while! (depending on how much u use the Bluetooth transmission)
  • Larger program memory. Arduino Bluetooth uses an Atmel ATmega168 with 16kb of code space instead of the classic 8kb.

So the large range, ease of use (it seems) and ability to network them looks like it could produce some interesting artworks, prototypes and projects.

US Airforce or Videogame?

Do Something Amazing - get killed.

Not really the usual fare of Playpen, but through a strange Google Ad placement that I clicked on I ended up at the U.S. Airforce’s propaganda recruitment site, Do Something Amazing created by Austin agency, GSD&M. I blog it because it is an interesting cultural phenomenon, seemingly pretty cynical and completely without irony.

The site looks like something out of Unreal Tournament or any other FPS or military videogame support website. I half expected there to be a link to download the “Iraq patch v 2.3.6 – now with State of the Union address”.

At the same time it also completely co-opts much of current web culture – you can download the clips to your iPod, PSP or as a Quicktime movie. You also get given a link to each video (for your blog of course) and the option to “Share it!” with a friend along with downloads, wallpapers, etc.

I suppose it’s only the natural way of things for the military to use the very latest marketing techniques, but somehow it just feels a bit eerie that it is so close to the marketing of the genre of entertainment that it spawned. I guess the target audience is the same too. Sigh.

Bubble Sequencer

Bubble Sequencer

Adding to the ever-growing list of things that my ex-students now do much better than I, Karl D. D. Willis is working on a playful new project called Bubble Sequencer. Bubble Sequencer uses the flow of bubbles through pipes to trigger notes set by lighting up LEDs – the bubbles work like kind of playback heads, or like a pianola roll. It’s easier to understand from the video.

I wrote recently about Karl’s win at the Tokyo Type Director’s club with his Light Tracer project. He’s pushed that project a long way, but it’s nice to see him working on something new.

It’s very Japanese I feel (and where Karl lives at the moment) – there are shades of Toshio Iwai in there I think and, let’s face it, he inspired all of us. I think there is probably more to be explored here too, but I’m sure he’ll be doing that.

Multiperson multi-touch interface

A while ago I wrote about Jeff Han’s multi-touch interface and of course it got a lot of attention off the back of the iphone’s similar interface.

Han since spun off a company called Perceptive Pixel and below is the latest version of his multi-touch interface. It’s much bigger and, more impressively, it can handle two people working on it at once. Again, I still wonder what computing power is behind this and how expensive it all is, but you can imagine some very interesting collaborative processes happening. He needs to let some children loose on it too.

(Thanks Danielle and itsartmag)

Dialogue with Malcolm Garrett

I have been writing articles for various design magazines for over eight years now, mainly for Desktop in Australia/NZ, and felt sad that many of the very interesting conversations I have had with people over the years are just languishing on my hard drive. So the folks at Desktop have let me re-publish older articles on my blog here. There are over 90 of them, so I’ll add them from time to time – I hope they prove useful and interesting to people. They’re rather long for the blog format so you’ll need to click “Continue reading…”.

The first is with Malcolm Garrett slightly randomly chosen, but I also felt that it is interesting to read some views on the future of TV and communications design that are a few years old given the recent releases from Apple.

Typography is Boring - Fuse

Malcolm Garrett

Malcolm Garrett has been a key figure in the world of graphic design for almost 25 years. Since the early 80s Garrett helped define a generation’s visual identity with his influential artwork for bands such as The Buzzcocks, Duran Duran and Simple Minds. He became interested in the emerging new media of the 90s and co-founded AMX Digital in London in 1998.

Garrett is a Visiting Professor for Interaction Design at Royal College of Arts in London and Chairman of Judges for the annual Design Week Awards. He finally left AMX last year after it had merged with Zinc to become Arnold Interactive. Here he discusses the roles of experience, television and what they have to teach us about the design process and new media.

Continue reading “Dialogue with Malcolm Garrett”

Art Haus

This skit from on a pretentious Big Brother-style ‘art haus’ full of pretentious artists (with German accents) had me chuckling. I have seen a little too much too similar to this in my time as a lecturer in art colleges, but usually done in earnest. I have to say, though, that I have seen the worst crimes outside of Germany – the accents should probably be British or Australian.

(Thanks to Greg for mailing me this).