Tag Archives: art

Lichen Beacons

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We see Raspberry Pi changing the way people teach, the way people make things, and the way they run their businesses. We’ve been particularly charmed to see how many artists use the Pi in their work too. Sometimes in places just on our doorstep.

Photograph courtesy of Krisztian Hofstadter

Photograph courtesy of Krisztian Hofstadter

On Friday, I learned about a new installation at Corpus Christi college chapel here in Cambridge. Pre-Pi, if you were creating an art installation you’d likely be using Mac Minis or a laptop (or three) to perform any computational heavy lifting. The Raspberry Pi has changed the landscape for artists who want to incorporate computation or connectivity into their works: it means the tools available to them are much cheaper, and much smaller.

The makers, Ludion (Tom Hall, Drew Milne and Barry Byford), describe Lichen Beacons as a “site-responsive installation involving spoken word texts, music, and photographs conveyed through a dialogue between Bluetooth beacons and Raspberry Pis with screens and headphones”. Corpus chapel is a place of calm and contemplation (unless you’re Laura, our copy editor, who got married to Pete in there a few years ago to the explosive strains of the Skyrim soundtrack, played on the organ); I can think of few places better for slowing down and taking time to breathe – aided by some thoughtful technology.

Lichen Ohms Seriatim (Trailer)

Short documentary on the installation ‘Lichen Ohms Seriatim’, by Tom Hall, Drew Milne and Barry Byford. Corpus Christi College, Chapel, Cambridge, UK. Part of the Festival of Ideas, 2015-10-24. More information at http://www.ludions.com/projects/lichens/

After I saw this video, I pestered Barry to put some words online about the build process, and the way the poetry, music, ambient sounds and images came together. He’s really outdone himself: there’s an extraordinarily detailed background to the work (including the technical framework) available on Ludion’s website which you should really take some time to read.

This installation is multi-layered, intensely thoughtful and designed to slow down the experience of the person encountering it. I’ll be dropping by to play with and listen to my own Pi inna box later in the week. We could all use a spot of contemplation once in a while.

 

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Light painting with a Raspberry Pi

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Before we get to the meat of today’s post, we’ve two bits of news. Just over an hour ago we watched the Soyuz rocket carrying British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who will be in charge of the two Astro Pis on the ISS, lift off. The Soyuz will dock with the ISS around 17:24 GMT today: please join us following Tim’s progress on Twitter from about 16:45 GMT. (You can also watch live footage at NASA TV.)

In other Raspberry Pi community news, we’re very pleased to announce that Yasmin Bey, a 14-year-old Pi developer from Southend, organiser of school computer clubs, and friend of many at Pi Towers, won the EU Digital Girl of the Year award, which this year was awarded jointly with Niamh Scanlon from Dublin. We’ve been watching Yasmin’s progress over the last year or so: she’s an astonishingly focussed and exceptionally smart girl, and we wish her all the success in the world. Well done Yasmin – we’re really proud of you!

Back to light painting.

raspberry_pi_rainbow2

LadyAda from New York’s Adafruit dropped me a very short email at the end of last week, saying “You must see this.” As usual, she was right. This is one of the most eye-catching projects we’ve come across this year.

What you’re seeing in the photo above is a persistence of vision (POV) effect, where a slow shutter speed is used to capture a row of LEDs which change as they’re moved across the frame (in this instance by someone carrying and sweeping the LEDs from one side of the picture to the other over a period of a couple of seconds).

raspberry_pi_nasa

It’s a really impressive effect, and it’s a rig you should be able to build yourself at home, using a Raspberry Pi and some additional kit. Adafruit has covered the subject before, but they’ve discovered that their new DotStar LEDs make things much easier and much better looking. DotStar LEDs use generic 2-wire SPI, so you can push data much faster than with the NeoPixels’ 800 KHz protocol, and you don’t need to mess around with specific timing functions. They also have much higher pulse width modulation (PWM), which means that things look a lot smoother and less flickery than in POV projects made with other LEDs. Result: cleaner, more detailed light painting.

raspberry_pi_bowser

Adafruit have a made a very thorough tutorial which will help you build a 1m light painter which can support most common image formats. They’ve also helpfully included instructions on making your photos taken with this setup as bright and sharp as possible.

raspberry_pi_episode7

We’re wondering if we have enough time to build our own rig for Christmas. If you make your own, please post a link in the comments!

 

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Now Available for Download: Processing

via Raspberry Pi

I’m a long-time fan of Processing, a free open source programming language and development environment focused on teaching coding in the context of visual arts. It’s why I’m so excited that the latest version, Processing 3.0.1, now officially supports Raspberry Pi. Just as Sonic Pi lets you make your first sound in just one line of code, Processing lets you draw on screen with just one line of code. It’s that easy to get started. But don’t let that fool you, it’s a very powerful and flexible language and development environment.

Screenshot of Processing development environment

We owe a huge thank you to Gottfried Haider, who did the heavy lifting to get Processing running smoothly on the Raspberry Pi and create a hardware input/output library. That’s right, this version of Processing works with the GPIO pins right out of the box. Gottfried says:

I’m excited about having Processing on the Raspberry Pi and other low-cost desktop machines. In the last few years we’ve seen a shift away from easily accessible environments, towards concepts such as mobile platforms, specialized internet-of-things devices and cloud computing. As someone who got into programming by tinkering around with the open and readily available platforms of the time, I believe it’s important to have initiatives such Raspberry Pi and Processing, to promote software literacy and to encourage a future where computers remain a read/write medium.

If you’re new to Processing, please take a look at our newest resource, Introduction to Processing. Not only does it get you started programming with Processing on the Raspberry Pi, but it also covers basic hardware input/output. As with all of our free resources, we welcome you to contribute enhancements and fixes. For those of you who prefer something more in-depth, Processing co-founders Ben Fry and Casey Reas recently released a second edition of their book Getting Started with Processing, published by Maker Media.

If you want to jump right in, you can download and install Processing from the terminal with this command:

curl https://processing.org/download/install-arm.sh | sudo sh

Or go to Processing’s downloads page to download and install it on your own.

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Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists: openFrameworks

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A big part of my role at the Foundation is running the Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists programme. Over 12 months we take a small group of young people aged 16-21 years through field trips, hack events and online mentoring to find new ways of using digital technology to enhance their creative pursuits. Our latest field trip included a openFrameworks workshop in London with Hellicar & Lewis, a partner in the Creative Technologist programme. One of our CTs, Yasmin Curren, wrote about her experience… 

One of the major perks of being a Raspberry Pi Creative Technologist is the chance to attend weekend workshops, where we get to go to a totally different city and meet with inspiring and knowledgeable individuals who can help us on our journey towards our final exhibition and showing off our digital projects! Last workshop we visited London to spend the weekend over with Joel Lewis at Hellicar & Lewis; a craft, design and technology studio that specialises in engagement. Here, Joel opened our minds to the wonder that is openFrameworks on Pi!

The Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists take part in an openFrameworks workshop at Hellicar & Lewis

openFrameworks is ‘an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding’. Yes, creative coding, that’s a thing! At first glance oF can seem quite intimidating with countless amounts of libraries, add-ons and documentation attached to it. For us, taking a look through it all, we couldn’t help but get immediately excited about everything that oF had to offer us, from projection mapping and facial recognition to graphic rendering and animation as well as so much more! But without some guidance it’s easy to become overwhelmed by it all.

Luckily for us, Joel Lewis is an openFrameworks wizard and quickly squished any negative or fearful thoughts we may initially have had by showing us some of the inspiring work that he and his team at Hellicar & Lewis had produced using this framework. They have created work for nonprofit organisations such as an interactive arctic dome installation for Greenpeace, and commercial pieces for brands such as Nike with an interactive live broadcast for of Nike’s ‘Festival of Feel’.

However, what impressed me the most was how they had used what the framework had to offer to create pieces of technology to help make people’s lives better, one major piece of work being Somability. This is a series of technology applications that included interaction such as visual amplification and rhythmic interaction; these put together promoted expressive movement and collaboration among people with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The Making of Somability from Cariad Interactive on Vimeo

Joel also emphasised his love for the open source community during the workshop. Gone are the days where people want to hide their work and keep their findings to themselves so as to become better than their peers; today’s world is all about being open and sharing with the community! Every library and add-on within oF has been created by somebody and shared freely, asking for nothing in return. That might sound crazy but in reality it’s actually very clever! Not only do you help others (such as myself) to learn how to code by looking at examples and tweaking bits that are already there to suit my own needs, you also get the benefits of the community building upon your initial piece of code, fixing bugs or even making it better than you could have done yourself. Heck, somebody might even see your open source code and offer you a job because of it!

An open source community is also a friendly one, one where people actually want to help others instead of simply focusing on their own projects, and therefore the openFrameworks forum is always full of people willing to pass on their knowledge to others and help wherever they can; which is great news for us newbies!

The Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists get to grips with openFrameworks with the help of Joel Lewis of Hellicar & Lewis

After the weekend at Hellicar & Lewis I’m left feeling very excited about what openFrameworks and the open source community surrounding it has to offer. I can’t wait to start piecing together my own puzzle!

The Creative Technologists are really ramping up production on their final projects and I can’t wait to see what they do with their new openFrameworks skills. Keep an eye on the blog for updates from CTs over the next six months!

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Ra: sound art from a pyrite sun disc

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The video below introduces an unsual sound art piece based on a Raspberry Pi. Named Ra – as in the sun god of the ancient Egyptians – it’s a little like a record player, except that it doesn’t play records; instead, it “plays” pyrite discs, a rare kind of mineral deposit. Its creator is Dmitry Morozov, a “Russian media-artist, musician and engineer of strange-sounding mechanisms.” He describes Ra as a sound object/synthesizer.

::vtol:: Ra

Ra is a sound object / synthesizer which uses laser for scanning the irregularities of the surface of the pyrite disc and further transforms this data to produce sound. Pyrite disc is a rare form of pyrite which is crystallised in radial shape (as unusual disc spherulites) which also was named ‘pyrite suns’ or ‘pyrite dollars’.

Usually, pyrite, or fool’s gold, forms cuboid crystals. But in coal mines near Sparta, Illinois (and nowhere else on Earth, so far as anyone knows), it forms discs with grooves radiating out from the centre, and these are known as pyrite dollars or pyrite suns. Ra uses a laser to scan the surface of a pyrite disc as it is turned, and represents the mineral’s superficial irregularities as sound.

Cuboid and discoid crystals of pyrite

Cuboid and discoid crystals of pyrite

Dmitry was inspired to create this piece of sound art by his reading about the preservation of the earliest sounds recorded in fragile media such as wax. The projects he was learning about all used lasers, and he set out to make his own laser sound reader that would be able to produce sound from unorthodox irregular surfaces.

A DIY laser pickup “reads” the surface of the pyrite as it is turned by a stepper motor. Its output is passed to a Raspberry Pi which synthesizes it and applies various filters and effects, and plays the resulting sound through a single speaker. Ten control knobs and nine switches allow a user to alter the speed and direction of the disc’s motion and the parameters of the sound synthesis and processing carried out by the Raspberry Pi. There’s a little more information on Dmitry’s website, and the object itself is in the Sound Museum in St Petersburg.

Ra, a sound art piece

Ra, a sound art piece that synthesizes sound from the surface irregularities of pyrite disks

As you’ll have heard if you played the video above with sound, the audio representation that Ra makes of the patterns in the material is an eerie cinematic sci fi-like soundtrack with with long, sustained tones interspersed with short and distinctive motifs of rhythm and melody that alter as they repeat. It’s unexpectedly appealing, to me at least, and leaves me wondering what the synthesizer would make of other substrates.

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SeeMore for World Maker Faire 2015

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We’re gearing up to go to World Maker Faire in at the New York Hall of Science on September 26 and 27 – if you’re going to be there, please come and say hi at the Raspberry Pi booth. We’ll have demos, activities, some little bits and bobs to give away, and much more. Eben’s going to giving a presentation too over the weekend, so come along if you’ve any questions you’d like to ask him.

ebenholdsforth

World Maker Faire is always a blast. If last year’s anything to go by, we’re hoping to see more than 200,000 of you; and every year, there seem to be more and more Raspberry Pis there driving makers’ projects.

This year we’re particularly excited about seeing this exhibit from Sam Blanchard, an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Virginia Tech.

SeeMore is part kinetic sculpture, part giant parallel computer, built with 256 Raspberry Pis. Each Pi is mounted on a servo arm, which moves depending on how much individual computation the Pi in question is doing. It’s a brilliant visual representation of how a parallel computer carries out many calculations simultaneously, breaking down a large problem into many small ones which can be worked on at the same time; this is the architecture modern supercomputers use, and SeeMore makes that architecture very easy to understand.

There’s a touchscreen interface that visitors can use to set SeeMore tasks. Sam is engineering those tasks to be specific to the venue, so you’ll see SeeMore calculating things which have something to do with World Maker Faire itself.

Thanks Sam – we’ll come and say hi when we’re not on stand duty!

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