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Digital Arts students win a Silver World Medal at the New York Film Festival.

April 17th, 2014 by Tegan

Animation students completing their Masters and Post Graduate Degrees at Wits Digital Arts produced 1 minute short films as part of a collaborative project in 2013. The students worked in small production groups, each specializing on a specific part of the 3D pipeline. The groups also collaborated with 4th Year Music Students from the School of the Arts for the score and sound design for each film. The course is an intensive 1 year Post Graduate degree in which students from varying backgrounds come together to learn the art of animation.

 

One of the teams completed a successful short which the lecturers chose to submit to Film Festivals across the world. To date, The short film entitled Amoeba has been selected for screening at the Stuttgart Festival for Animated Films (ITFS 2014) in the Young Animation category; the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International in the Animation – Shorts category and has won a Silver World Medal at the New York Film Festival in the Student Film category. The film is about a microscopic single celled organism called Fred. Every day, it would play by itself in the vast empty expanse of the petri dish. It was a lonely existence; it had no friends, nobody to talk to and nobody to share its experiences with. And then one day the cell decided that that it had had enough and it would end its lonely existence leaving this cruel world behind.

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Team Awesome (animators and creators) are:

Claire Dongo

Batsirai Freddy

Sheri Joffe

Seni Mtshali

 

Music Composition:

Johan Van Rooyen

 

Sound Design:

Sam Ogborne

Alex Collins

 

Lecturers:

Bronwyn Horne

Daniel Snaddon

Charl Smit

 

This is the first time Digital Arts Animation students have achieved this kind of success and produced such a well scripted, animated and finished piece. Congratulations to the team and staff involved in the project.

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NYFF

Tegan Bristow: Visiting Artist at VCU Qatar

April 14th, 2014 by Tegan

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In April I (Tegan Bristow – Interactive Digital Arts) had the great opportunity to be visiting artist to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Qatar in the Middle East.

This was a short week and a half in which I presented artworks developed between 2008 to present, focusing on community orientated artist practice and collaborative engagements in the arts and technology from performance through to installation practice.

In addition to presenting my work as an artist I ran a two day workshop with Faculty and Postgraduate students at VCU on using the XBox Kinect Sensor for video and sound control. In this workshop I covered a quick version of topics taught in the Interactive Media course at Wits. In this particular workshop the focus was on the workings of the XBox Kinect sensor and the techniques used in accessing Kinect data in Max/ MSP and Jitter patches and working this data from there to adjust particle systems, video and sound.

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Artist Talk to VCU Art and Design Faculty.

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Tegan Bristow demo’ing (using Synapse) of OpenNI points in Kinect Workshop

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Part of being a visiting artist was to also see how VCU operates and also the opportunity to critique and address the work of VCU’s MFA students. Next to Wits, VCU is very incredibly  well equipped, I was literally drooling over the Maker Lab  - which had no less that 3 3D printers and every other imaginable machine for material production. The school has a very strong design and art production aspect to it’s curriculum. Diane Derr who was running Arduino and Physical Computing courses with the students and building the technology ‘library’ of the school, is working hard at making interaction a growing part of the curriculum. In essence I was invited to visit as part of a growing exploration on how interactive media can move past pure web interaction and design and can be part of a art making process.  The students building physical computing project had a good and strong use of the medium that was well augmented by great production from their maker facilities at the school. I soon began to realise that many of the components that students were using in their projects (i.e. a pulse sensor) often needed to be be built up from scratch by our students who don’t have as much access to such great equipment – I’m still not sure if this puts us at an advantage ;).

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Part of the great facilities – the Maker Lab at VCU Qatar

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Digital Art Panel At ACASA Trienial

April 9th, 2014 by Tegan

On March 22nd Tegan Bristow (Interactive Digital Art) presented research based on her PhD, a paper titled Half Tiger: Digital Technology and Visual Aesthetics. The paper was presented on the only panel on Digital Arts at the ACASA African Art Histories Symposium.

The panel titled  Art and the Digital Revolution in Africa was organised and chaired by Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie from the University of University of California, Santa Barbara.  Ogbechie organised the panel to start the conversation and exploration around the meaning and use of digital practice in African Art. Digital and Technology Art is a topic that is rarely covered by African Art historians but is becoming increasingly more prominent in how art and socio-cultural practice is being engaged and shared in the region.

Papers on the panel included:

Sign Writers in Ghana: From Handmade to Digital, by Mariaclaudia Cristofano of Sapienza Università di Roma. A lovely and humorous paper on the overtly graphical shifts that are now present in digital signage in Ghana  following the practices and traditions of the sign painting culture of the region.

Obsolescing Analog Africa, by Delinda Collier of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A paper that parallels the histories of technology culture in the West ie. cybernetics, with practice that have long been present in pattern making and complex forms in Africa cultural practices. She refer to Jean Katambuyi Mukendi as a primary case. A paper that brings up some important issues, but one that does not necessarily fit with my (Tegan Bristow’s) philosophy of how African technology art should be addressed, meaning not always through the lens of Western techno-culture.

Opening-up Place through Sound, by Carol l. Magee of the University of North Carolina and Emeka Ogboh (Sound Artist). A paper on the role of Sound Art and what it offers an understanding of places like Lagos in Nigeria, using Ogboh’s Lagos Soundscapes as the primary case in point.

My paper dealt with looking at notions of the socio-cultural in African cultural practice and how this is augmented by communications technology. In parallel the paper begins to take note of certain visual aesthetics mechanism that are at play as an influence of how “cultures of technology” are evolving and being understood in the different regions in Africa, based on their particular histories with communications technologies.

I look forward to these papers being published as some of the first in the “history of art chronicles” that begin to deal with influence and presence of media and digital art in African arts and culture practice. Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie is editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art Histories and Visual Culture, in which he hopes these papers will be published further.

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Carol l. Magee, Emeka Ogbho, Tegan Bristow, Delinda Collier, Sylvester  Ogbechie & Mariaclaudia Cristofano

Trienial Poster

Ogbechie’s Critical Interventions Journal

Hello Computer Hack-a-thon

March 6th, 2014 by Tegan

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Hello Computer is a Johannesburg based digital ad agency, committed to innovation on the traditional model of digital marketing. Speaking yesterday at the Digital Soiree held at the Wits Digital Art seminar room, Keri Friend and Nathan Gates explained Hello Computer’s unconventional methods of mobilizing creative minds to produce original ideas , and making the digital sphere an active part of the creative campaign process (instead of a detached afterthought).

The primary method was the idea of “Hackathons”.  These are project based hack events, involving teams of creative technologists working toward marvellously outlandish creative projects, self-designed to get creative minds ticking and actively creating.

The seminar room, packed with students of the digital arts and gaming faculties, watched enthralled  as the pair showcased their past projects as devised in previous hackathons.

An invitation was then extended to students of digital arts  to apply to join the Wits team in competing in the next hackathon event for XooXity. The twelve hour event is set to be held on 15 March, and will see digital creatives from various institutions go head to head for top position.

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TEPP – Technologically Enabled Performance – PhD recital by Jon Crossley

February 28th, 2014 by christo

Jon Crossley, Wits Music lecturer, and prolific performer in several genres of classical and contemporary music presented his TEPP (technologically enabled performance) at a PhD recital on 22 Feb in the Wits Theatre.  Improvising on a visual score of his own composition together with Carlo Mombelli (electric bass) and two drummers (Justin Badenhorst and Jono Sweetman) the performance was audited by external examiner Nic Collins, editor of the Leonardo Music Journal together with a large and appreciative audience.

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Jon Crossley performing with his TEPP modified guitar. (Photo by Christo Doherty.)

The instrument (a hardware hacked electric jazz guitar) contains hacked effects processors, multiple signal paths, a three way digital recording matrix, an upper body suit (a strapped on exoskeleton) with 54 continuous controllers and a custom designed arduino board (programmed to relay the CC values through to midi). (For more information see Crossley’s website.)

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Jon Crossley performing on the Wits Theatre stage with Carlo Mombelli and Justin Badenhorst visible on specially constructed platforms positioned within the auditorium. (Photo by Christo Doherty.)

Crossley’s performance was a real triumph.  Moving through complex layers of noise and electronic fury interspersed with meditative periods, the hour long work resolved into a slow hymn.

Jon Crossley introducing his musicians to the visual score, shortly before the actual performance. (photo by Christo Doherty.)

Jon Crossley introducing his musicians to the visual score, shortly before the actual performance. (photo by Christo Doherty.)