I have been invited to give a talk about dancing ants at the Natures Stage of Wilderness Festival, taking place between 10-12 August 2012 in beautiful Oxfordshire. I can’t wait to get there and take in a wealth of music, talks, food and country air!
Installed in Victoria Park for the duration of the Olympics, the Universal Tea Machine is a computer that relies on teamwork and calculation to produce the perfect cup of tea. The Heath-Robinson-esque machine enables the audience to make their ‘perfect’ cup of tea by solving binary calculation maths problems. If their calculation is too high, they might get too many teabags; not high enough, and they may not get a teabag at all.
I designed and fabricated the mechanisms and electronics that enable tea to get made: the ‘kitchen’ unit. Here’s a short video showing the mechanisms in action:
FutureEverything was featured on Iranian television channel Manoto TV‘s Tech Show this week. There’s a feature on the Ant Ballet about halfway through. My Persian isn’t too hot, but I think the translation came across OK…
You can watch the whole programme here, or jump straight in at the Ant Ballet section here.
Ant Ballet was featured on the BBC News website this morning. The segment shows a brief overview of the project, along with a guided tour of the installation at FutureEverything in MOSI‘s 1830 Warehouse, Manchester.
I know not everyone can make it to Manchester for FutureEverything, so took a couple of panoramic photosynths so that everyone can join in the fun. The exhibition is in the world’s first railway warehouse, so it’s a nice contrast between the peak of 1830’s physical technology and 2012’s (mostly) virtual!
First up is the elevator that takes people from the ground floor to the exhibition:
It’s been designed by Jörn Röder and Jonathan Pimay. Called fbFaces, it is the result of a script that trawled the web for public photos of people from and related to Manchester. There’s something of a Philip K Dick novel/Keiichi Matsuda experience in being surrounded by so many little avatars…
It has four screens showing documentary footage and theory about Ant Ballet, and a floating circular screen in the middle of the space with a robotic arm and simulation of ant trail following and disruption.
On the other side of the room is Brendan Oliver and Kasia Molga‘s The…. Based around David Bohm‘s philosophy that no human thought can be original, but rather a result of other thoughts in the world, it presents visitors with poetic (and non-Justin Bieber-related) Twitter feeds that are sent from one viewers’ shadow to another.
Sad to hear about the passing of Adam Yaunch a couple of days ago. The Beastie Boys are the soundtrack to much of machine-building – here’s a video from the construction of the Ant Ballet machine last year:
For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see my Ant Ballet installation currently in ZSL London Zoo, here are a couple of Photosynths that enable you to navigate the area!
The BUGS house
The installation is aptly in the BUGS house – celebrating the diversity of invertebrate life. The building itself is modelled after a termite nest, using a passive ventilation system to regulate the interior temperature and airflow.
The installation is in near to the leafcutter ants, locusts, and cockroaches, in an ‘exclusion zone’ tent.
The installation is going to be there until the 11th of May, so head on down to the zoo if you want to find out more!
I helped my good friend Heechan Park shoot a couple of short videos about the amazing machines he built at the Bartlett last year.
Inspired by JG Ballard’s The Cloud Sculptures of Choral D, they fire vortices of smoke, infused with scents, distances of up to 20m. Viewers experience an ephemeral sensation – bewildering bursts of smell defining their interaction with a space.
Video by Ollie Palmer and Heechan Park
Here’s the first testing of the machines near Old Street. There’s a lovely contrast between the rugged, heavy-duty appearance of the machines and the poetically delicate smoke vortex they create.
Video by Heechan Park, with footage by Ollie Palmer