Nybble at the V&A Museum

This weekend (20-21 September 2013) the garden of V&A Museum will be transformed into a large computing device by Ollie Palmer – and a troupe of “human-computers”.

In 1948 Alan Turing designed the first chess computer programme.

The only problem was that he didn’t have a computer to play it on.

He wrote all of the instructions onto pieces of paper, and played a game of chess as if he were the computer himself. Each move took over half an hour. What’s more, his human-powered computer programme didn’t win the game.

Nybble takes Turing’s human computer and combines it with a sense of theatricality in an immersive architectural-scale installation. Four performers, each representing a different part of a computing CPU, will be parsing a message into the V&A’s John Madjeski Garden. The display is playful, silly and fun – and possibly the most analogue computer to have graced the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend.

Nybble_tests

Where

John Madjeski Garden, V&A Museum
21-22 September 2013
12.00, 14.00 and 16.00 daily (performances last 45 minutes)
Admission free

Part of the V&A Digital Design Weekend.

Funded by Design with Heritage, an AHRC Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange between V&A and UCL. www.designwithheritage.org

Moai

One of my favourite items in the British Museum is the Moai. It is in the Living and Dying room.

Moai in British museum. Photo from Bytes Daily.

I spent a few days on Easter Island in 2005. It’s a funny place – technically part of Chile, and about half the size of the Isle of Wight, and formed from three volcanoes. It’s the most remote island in the world. Most of the three thousand residents live in the town. There are wild horses.

Moai, Easter Island

Moai on the east coast of Easter Island. Photo by Ollie Palmer.

Easter Islands’ stone heads were carved by tribes who lived on opposite sides of the island: the Hanau epe (Long Ears) and the Hanau momoko (Short Ears). Both wanted more heads to prove how much better they were than the other tribe. The construction of the heads led to the deforestation of the island, and used so much of its resources that there was widespread famine, and a huge population loss. It is an example of how an entire culture can lose perspective.

The moai in the British Museum is from the Short Ears side of the island. It would have originally been painted red. It is called Hakananai’a, which translates as ‘Stolen or Hidden Friend’.

My favourite part of the statue is not the fond memories it evokes, but the plinth it stands on. Over the years so many people thought it would be hilarious to touch the sign that says ‘Please do not touch’ that, although it has since been removed, its outline is preserved in greasy fingerprints. It’s like a footpath which emerges on a patch of grass; but this time from lots of people doing the same joke.

“Please do not touch”

Further reading:
The BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects
The Cult of the Birdman, the religion that developed following the famine
Easter Island Statues

Talk with Natalie Jeremijenko and Kasia Molga

I am privileged to be giving a talk with Natalie Jeremijenko and my friend Kasia Molga tomorrow evening at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston. Please do come if you’re in town!

Here is the press release:

Sky, ants and talking to plants

Invisible Dust invites you to a presentation by New York experimenter, environmental engineer and artist Natalie Jeremijenko together with the ‘Ant Ballet’ artist and designer Ollie Palmer discussing with Invisible dust host and artist Kasia Molga how technology is being driven by artists to explore, conserve and relate to our environment.

Speaker Profile:

Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering. She was recently named one of the 40 most influential designers by I.D. Magazine and listed in Fast Company’s most influential women in technology. Jeremijenko is the director of the environmental health clinic and associate professor at New York University.

Ollie Palmer is a designer and artist. He is a collaborator with Open H2O and Protei (open source projects developing oceanic technologies) and a tutor in the Interactive Architecture Workshop at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL.

Host:

Kasia Molga is a media artist who explores changes in our perception and relationship with the planet in the increasingly technologically mediated world. She deals with real time environment and data visualisation – where the data becomes a pretext, motor and platform behind the work. Kasia Molga is one of the artists working on a research proposal for Invisible Heat, Invisible Dust’s new project about climate change and health.

6.30-8.30pm Tuesday 4th June 2013
Arcola Theatre ,
 24 Ashwin St, Dalston, London – E8 3DL.
Train: Dalston Junction overland station.
Tickets: £5 / cons £3

Late at Tate Britain

I am building a machine with Krieder + O’Leary for the next Late at Tate Britain on the 1 February 2013.

sentinel_web

It’s a 2.5m-long camera which scans the border between the public and hidden spaces of the gallery, and will be whirring away creating large photographs all evening. It is an homage to Kubrick and Tarkovsky, and a prototype for a system that I’ll be using in Norway over the coming weeks.

Date: 1 February 2013, 18:00-22:00
Location: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
More information here

Material Matters Talk

I am giving a lecture on Thursday evening at the Bartlett School of Architecture as part of Ruairi Glynn and Xavier de Kestelier‘s Material Matters series.

Ant Ballet

An entymological adventure coaxing choreography from a company of obstinate insects

As humans, we are used to hierarchical control systems. Ants are different – they use pheromones to communicate and connect with each other, building complex networks from simple feedback loops.

Working with a team of chemical scientists and entomologists, Ant Ballet is an attempt to ‘hack’ the communication protocols of ants. Witness the trials and tribulations of the first attempts to create choreography, and intercontinental ant colony communication through the use of synthesised chemical compounds.

The Bartlett School of Architecture
Royal Ear Hospital
21 Capper Street
London WC1E 6AP

Thursday 17 January 2013, 7pm

Bio
Ollie Palmer is an artist and designer. Based at the Bartlett School of Architecture, he is a tutor in RC3 on the Graduate Architectural Design course. He has travelled around the world, hitchhiked across Iceland and taught IT skills in the heart of the Amazon. He is a collaborator with Open_H20 (developing open source oceanic technologies) and a Getty Images contributing photographer.
www.olliepalmer.com

Demystify Remystify

I taught a workshop with Ruairi Glynn for the Adaptive Architectural Computation and our very own Interactive Architecture Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Over the course of 9 days, students learnt to prototype and build small interactive electronic systems. Among the machines were a candy floss thrower, an Aurora Borealis emulator, and a three-person ping-pong ball game.

IMG_0440 DemystifyRemystifyLogo

More details, and student projects to follow.