Broncomatic & Touchomatic @ National Video Arcade


The near geriatric broncomatic (breath controlled bucking bronco – originally designed by Brendan Walker) was wheeled out of the mixed reality laboratory last week, and cobbled back together again by Joe Marshall and me for the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham. It’ll be there for the next few weeks if you want a go. Moving with the times, it now tweets line-video photos of the riders (@BroncomaticRide if you’re interested).

We also installed the brand new Touchomatic arcade machine, a 2 player game that demands its users touch each other. It plays a game called “Astonishing Airship Adventures” in which you fly a digital me in an airship over increasingly rugged terrain, picking up coins, balloons and unintentionally dancing to the best music ever put in a videogame cabinet. And is quite fun if you fancy a go. Just be aware it records you as it goes along.



Thrill lab drives me up the wall @ Fusion


Today we’ve been exploring what it means to try something new when you exercise, working with Fusion we’ve been experimenting on people: having them run on treadmills and participate in bootcamps, but also climb, sail and try yoga-boarding. I didn’t know what that was either, but imagine doing yoga on a surfboard. In the water /shudder. In fact we got incredibly positive results which suggest that the best way to enjoy your exercise and keep you doing it is to find something that takes you on a varied emotional trajectory. In this instance, sailing came out on the top of our thrill scale. This was also one of the first field validations of the long standing walker thrill equation, as we used a new experimental setup that allowed us to do so.

My arms hurt for nearly a week after this. Science is hard!


Performing Data @ FACT Liverpool


Today, we had an exhibition and workshop around the performing data project in which work, all of which I’ve been involved in to some degree by Brendan Walker, Rachel Jacobs, Di Wiltshire, Caroline Locke and Richard Ramchurn was exhibited and discussed. We then let a bunch of makers loose on the data to see what they’d come up with. the results were little short of fantastic.

The concept of Performing Data has emerged from multi-disciplinary engagements between artists, social scientists and technologists. Through performance data is revealed to people in various material and embodied ways, sometimes slowly, sometimes, as if live, sometimes in tangible forms, and sometimes by requiring them to enact being sensors.

Here’s what somebody else thought about it.

Oscillate @ Docfest


Brendan Walker’s amazing new artwork Oscillate is now on display at Sheffield international Documentary Festival as of today. In Brendan’s words, oscillate is:

“An immersive interactive artwork based on two popular entertainment technologies: the multi millennia-old swing and the 21st century Oculus Rift – the former designed to excite the vestibular system, the latter designed to excite the visual cortex”.

My involvement was to try and make the technology keep up with Brendan’s vision. In the end it was a wonderful thing, that surprisingly induced less sickness than you might expect. I put this down to your motion being similar to what you’re experiencing in the VR – which is of course unlike most VR experiences.

The work appeared in the Guardian an on Radio 4’s Film Program.


Sentiment @ East Side Projects


For most of the past year I’ve been supporting artist Di Wiltshire in the development of her latest artwork “Sentiment”. Today she was showing it at East Side Projects in birmingham, where I had the great pleasure of also giving a talk about the technology behind the project. In Di’s words:

“Sentiment Art is a interactive soundscape with a wearable sensation device. Created from the voices and emotional response of fifty people, a chorus of humanity through sound and haptics.Existence is intrinsically a holistic system. We are connected through our senses, emotions, sexuality, spirituality our bodies. We are wellbeing and illbeing. We are part and absorbed by the way we inhabit space.Humans need spiritual spaces and thinking places, alternative realities, quirks of nature to create glitches in self absorbed projects. The everyday illusion of meaning in narrative we have life spaces not life stories.Our perceptions shape our reality and in turn our motives. Our everyday is formed through our interactions.Everybody worries about the same things. The insignificant to the catastrophic. How we think is what we live by. Our choices have brought us to a place where we exist. Sentiment Art is an intrinsically multi-modal experience, comprising rich dynamic audio narratives from multiple speakers with related biodata delivered through a wearable haptic interface. The audio of the interviews, and the haptic biodata is dynamically shifted based on the attention of the viewer, and this has been enabled through the use of the performing data toolkit. The data, whether audio recordings or biodata – heard or felt – or the captured attention of the viewer is at the heart of the experience.”


The Challenges of Using Biodata in Promotional Filmmaking @ TOCHI


After quite a significant lead time, we’ve finally published some of the results from the Vicarious project in the ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), in a paper called The Challenges of Using Biodata in Promotional Filmmaking. This paper draws on a lot of the work already seen here in this blog to unpack what is interesting and challenging about trying to apply the use of recorded biodata to film making – particularly to advertisements or promotional films. If you’d like to read the paper, you can find it here.

Storm in a teacup @ The Hub, Hastings

window-0 teabag

Storm in a teacup makes its début at the Hub at Hastings Pier. These delightfully heath robinson-esque tea making devices are driven by the waves outside the pier. Conceived by Prof Walker, and enabled by the performing data architecture that I’ve been building for the past several years this is part of a wider performing data project, where we explore what it means for artists and scientists to “perform” data. I also recently gave a talk at the Hub about the project, along with Brendan Walker, Michael Margolis, Rachel Jacobs and Steve Benford.