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.
Artist Talk to VCU Art and Design Faculty.
Tegan Bristow demo’ing (using Synapse) of OpenNI points in Kinect Workshop
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 ;).
Part of the great facilities – the Maker Lab at VCU Qatar