Wednesday, 7 November 2012

De Montfort wins Green Gown award for Greenview App

We're delighted to announce that we won the Green ICT category in the EAUC Green Gown Awards last night. It was a fantastic evening and we were thrilled to share it with many familiar faces from the last few years alongside our colleagues from DMU's Square Mile Project that also won in the Social Responsibility category and the International Social Responsibility category. Particularly poignant for me as the event was held in the beautiful Great Hall at the University of Birmingham.

There were  key people without whom which this project would never have happened. Firstly - our sponsors/funders, JISC - Rob Bristow at the Greening ICT group at JISC has supported us tirelessly and without JISC funding this project, and its predecessor, DUALL. could never have happened. Second, the team behind the Greenview app from IOCT and IESD - Richard Bull, Dave Everitt, Gareth Howell, Graeme Stuart and Martin Rieser. Thirdly, the sustainability team at DMU are amazing - Karl Letten and Paul Fleming in particular. Finally, the IESD and the Faculty of Technology at DMU have been incredibly supportive of our, at times, slightly unorthodox ideas about energy visualisation.

Oh, and last but not least, thank you to to the EAUC for the award. We're very grateful.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

ISEA 2012

ISEA2012 Machine Wilderness

As contradictory as it sounds to hold a conference/exhibition on ecology in a remote location among the fragile sands of New Mexico,  ISEA12 had an ecological theme "Machine Wilderness". The associated air miles and car use were the unfortunate overheads. Outstanding works included François Quévillon's Derive (video) which visualised weather data embedded in the drawing of a reactive 3D graphic landscape. It was remarkable in its subtle rendering and potential for showing data in intuitive ways.
Other top works included The Hand of Man in Taos, 

The Hand of Man-Christian Ristow
A gigantic hydraulic hand driven by a data glove which was capable of lifting and crushing cards bodily. "The Hand of Man" moving sculpture by Christian Ristow, September 27 through to  30th , in Kit Carson Park is an interactive kinetic sculpture that you can operate. People were able to work with the artist and crew by slipping theirr hand into the sculpture's operation glove - a system that enables the giant sculpture to mimic your movements.  You can pick up cars that will be part of the exhibit, lift them 25 feet up, turn them about, and drop them to the ground! The Hand was designed and built by Ristow, a renowned artist in the field of animatronics. Ristow has been living and working in Taos since 2005, and built The Hand in 2008.  

Teri Rueb, Carmelita Topaha &  Larry Phan: No Places with Names: A Critical Acoustic Archaeology locative wilderness walk has already been blogged here, but Charles Lindsay: CARBONX  Dome piece also at Sante Fe, was another overwhelming experience.
The Sante Fe day included a visit to SITE whose More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness show was a knock out-albeit not particularly electronic ( In collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The exhibit will be on display until January 6th, 2013.)
Eve Sussman video still from "89 Seconds at Alcázar"Los Meninas


For me the out standing works were artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's replica of the chemical-weapon-baring trucks Colin Powell recollected from Iraq. And others focused more heavily on the technological advancements that blurred the line between documentation and reappropriation, such as Eve Sussman's video installation that recreates the scene of Diego Velazquez's "Las Meninas."

50/50 Native Artists in Sa
50/50: Fifty Artists, Fifty Years presented by Museum of Contemporary Native Arts was an overwhelmingly sad experience , with every work reflecting confusion , anger and despair at the native dispossion and the tainting of Indian lands with radioactive fall out from Nuclear tests.

This exposed the contradictory nature of the whole event: sensitive eco-friendly projects addressing the despoiling of the wilderness by man's careless interventions, at the same time endorsing low rider and car-centered cultures in the region, and very little said about the grab for oil, the arctic sea ice melting the move away from nuclear and the terrifying future that global warming will bring. It was not complacent, but seemed far from the European consciousness about the global climate crisis and tthe radical changes needed. 
Steve Storz  Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility
On Taos day the sinister shed by Steve Storz  Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility (KARF) Phase II at the  UNM Klauer Campus in Taos NM, was an outdoor electronic sculpture installation that underlined the complicity of scientists in despoiling this pristine landscape in the name of 'freedom'.
However the focus on building DIY adobe shacks at Taos seemed nice and hippyish, but is not a realistic long-term solution. Engaging with Los Alamos was also a nice idea, but the attitudes revealed at the Sante Fe conference by the artistic director, implied a massive misunderstanding of the role of art:  seeing it only as a way of illustrating existing scientific materials more effectively, rather than as a radical way of completely rethinking methodologies.

The small contribution we made as a team ( Nina Yankowitz, Barry Holden , Martin Rieser, Rasmus Vuiori) was an interactive questionnaire using QR codes to probe the contradictions in people's attitudes to Eco issues. The resulting web database will be used to drive future online interventions using avatar humour to engage a thoughtful response to the crisis.

The main exhibition for ISEA2012 was displayed at a total of seven venues. It is based at both The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History and 516 ARTS, with off-site projects at the following five Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, the Rainosek Gallery at the UNM School of Architecture & Planning, Richard Levy Gallery and the Alvarado Urban Farm. The exhibition features work that combines art, science and technology, demonstrating the role art can play in re-envisioning the world. The over 100 artists are from 16 countries: Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, the U.K. and the USA. The exhibition was juried and curated through an international call for proposals, which drew close to 1,500 submissions from artists and presenters around the globe. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by the acclaimed Radius Books, which will be distributed internationally. 
It was a massive attempt to integrate electronic arts and the ecologic movement and as such deserves praise for both ambition and achievement. 
Posted by

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Secret Garden

Secret Garden
A virtual reality/augmented reality hybrid performance opera/ballet.
 Martin Rieser/ Andrew Hugill

Secret Garden is an attempt to recreate a contemporary version of the Eden myth in the midst of an urban environment. It will be available in two versions –a physical installation and as a virtual mobile experience linked to selected site locations. In its installation aspect, it will comprises eleven mounted iPads acting as viewports distributed around a circle in the Cube gallery at Phoenix Square. Peering into one of the viewports will trigger a view of an idyllic three-dimensional scene in the ‘Secret Garden’ and tell part of the mythical story of the Fall, through words, music and dance. This same content will soon be made available using Augmented Reality software to any visitor with a smartphone.

The Fall story is common to many of the world’s religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The structure of Secret Garden will be loosely modelled on the ten paths of the Sephirot in the Jewish telling of the story, which is itself also a symbol of the Tree of Life and the oldest extant version. Two contemporary human figures re-enact the story of the Fall, combining sung poetry and video vignettes with 3D generated environments, each scene dis­tributed to a different one of the eleven iPad viewports. The viewer’s presence triggers both music and action.
The texts comprise original poems that tell this classic story in a timeless and relevant way, examining choices in a fallen world. The musical composition is adaptive and features vocal settings and digitally treated percussion. The virtual scenography consists of 3D designs based on an idealised garden space, inspired by the 19th century Mezzotints for Milton’s Paradise Lost by John Martin. Viewing the eleven viewports will gradually assemble the elements of a story in the user’s mind. The story is mysterious and mythical in nature, however, it is not necessary to see the viewports in any particular order, and a partial viewing will also provide a complete experience in itself.
 The installation is a unique virtual reality amalgam of poetry, music, and 3D panoramic images and motion-captured avatars. It plays with sound narrative and myth, transposed into a modern context, using technology both in production and delivery in a synthesised and holistic capacity. Audience movement from viewport to viewport will trigger vocal settings of authored verse  and head movements change the scene perspective in realtime.

The Institute Of Creative Technologies (IOCT) at De Montfort University supported the project. The IOCT specialises in cross-disciplinary working that combines science and technology with the arts and humanities. The project will draw on expertise from the Faculties of Art & Design, Humanities and Technology, including the Fused Media Lab (for the virtual scenography), the Architecture Department (for the physical build of the installation), students on the Games Design degree (for the interactivity) and the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre (for the music). Management will be provided by Professor Andrew Hugill (Director of the IOCT) and Professor Martin Rieser (Professor of Digital Creativity), who are the creators of Secret Garden.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012




Martin Rieser - Institute of Creative
Technologies at De Montfort University

Audio Trail and Installations
14th August – 30th September

Sean Clark programmer testing Trail

Wall trail in Phoenix Cafe

Interactive Video multi-scree

This digital commission in one of a series of events and activities across Leicester that marksthe 40th anniversary of the expulsion ofUgandan Asians and their subsequent move to Leicester.

In August 1972, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin gave the Asian community 90 days notice to
leave the country. They were forced to leavealmost everything in Uganda and seek refuge in other countries such as Britain and Canada. The digital commission consists of a trail linking New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and Phoenix, a video installation in the Phoenix café multiscreen and a large wall graphic showing the trail and providing access to QR codes, located in the Phoenix café.

New Walk Museum & Art Gallery
to Phoenix

Using personal testimony from Leicester’s Ugandan Asian community, the trail revisits the
dramatic events in 1972 and shares memories about arrival in the UK and settling in Leicester ithe 1970s, while celebrating the community’s continued cultural and economic impact on the City.

The trail follows a route from New Walk Museum & Art Gallery to Phoenix, with QR codes located on posters in shops and windows along the route. Scanning the QR codes triggers the audio commentary telling the story of the exodus. Onarrival at Phoenix, visitors can interact with the video installation and wall graphic in the café area.

To follow the trail, iPhone users should download an app from Empedia, via You can then follow the trail, scanning the QR codes located along the walk (or on the map on the reverse) to release audio information. The map on the reverse can be used as a route guide. Android phone users can follow the trail without downloading the app, provided they have a QR  code reader downloaded on their phone. For iPhone users, information on the trail can also be triggered by GPS position if this facility is
active on your phone. By using this trail, you willbe downloading data to your phone, and your network provider may charge for this.

Phoenix Cafebar

When you arrive at Phoenix, the video installation on the café multiscreen allows you to edit your own journey through videos created specially for this commission.

The videos celebrate the current exhibition at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, using film footage of journeys across narrative textile surfaces. The textiles were created by community groups and professional artists, with lead artist Ashok Mistry, for the ‘from Kampala to Leicester’ exhibition at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery.

This video installation is a unique development using iPhone or iPad tones to control the nine video windows. You can visit reception to borrowearphones and iPads to participate - just plug into the wall fitting and edit your own journey through the videos.

The large wall graphic allows you to follow the audio trail in the comfort of Phoenix’s café. Scan the QR codes to trigger the audio commentary using iPads, iPhones or android phones.

See the website for event details, including the digital commission and screenings at Phoenix Square and a range of activities at New Walk

Please be aware that some of the testimonies in
the trail contain information that some people may
find upsetting

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Digital Textuality with/in Performance
Arnolfini Bristol
 2012 May 3-4, hosted by the University College Falmouth

There was a good DMU presence at this seminar programme under the HERA networks initiative:

Participants attending this ELMCIP  investigated the relationship between e-literature/digital text and performance. Members of the ELMCIP project, international speakers and practitioners  discussed the function and understanding of performativity and its relationship to digital literature through a series of papers, presentations and practical engagements.

"Although the field of e-literature is rife with references to performance, they have tended to remain relatively untheorised. In the main, analysis or investigation of performance is restricted to either the relationship between the textual output (on the interface or projected into a performance space) and the live body responding performatively to that text or else generating text through performance. There has been little attempt to fold digital text performance into the wider context of the 'turn to performance' among the humanities in recent decades. 

It is against this background -- of performance studies, ordinary language philosophy and speech act theory, the ethnography of ritual, performance of self and gender, performance writing, etc. -- that the conference will take place.While continuing the investigation of live performance, we will be seeking to broaden the scope to include: interactivity; the performative gesture of the hand and fingers (digital text) on the interface; the performativity of language itself on the screen; social performance, or how digital texts ‘perform’ us; the performance of codes and scripting; and the performance of the machine itself, i.e., what does an engineer mean when s/he talks about performance? In other words, we will be looking at the different modes of performance as they are manifest across the whole digital environment (dispositif) and, in order to give a fuller account of this complex of performative modes, we will also be investigating how they interact with each other."

  •  Conference proceedings, along with artist’s pages, will be published in a dedicated issue of the journal Performance Research (2013)

    UCF ELMCIP seminar - Arnolfini Bristol

    Machinic Performance and architecture

    Jerome Fletcher (UCF) Performance and the Digital Text.
    John Lumley (Univ. of Nottingham) Machinic performance.

    The place/role of the body in digital performance;Body and machine

    Alexandra Saemmer (Univ. of Paris 8): Reading (de)coherent
    hypertexts: a creative performance based on a close reading of the
    German hyperfiction Zeit für die Bombe

    Maria Engberg (BTH): Touch and Gesture as Aesthetic Experience:

    Clive Fencott: Performance as a Categoriser
    Joerg Piringer: Software - performance of code.

    Cristophe Collard (Free Univ. of Brussels): Jesurun’s digitalist Firefall:
    Staging the analogical relation as cognitive performance.

    Giovanna di Rosario (Univ. of Jyvaskyla): ‘Reading’ Performance:
    Eugenio Tisselli’s Wen

    David Prater: "Davey Dreamnation and the Performance of Self"
     How digital language performs. Reading digital performance. Presentation of work

    Christine Wilks: Out of Touch - a digital text performance

    Martin Rieser (Univ. of Kingston): Performed poetics in multi-linear narrative situations

    Paula Crutchlow: Make Shift

    Annie Abrahams
    cris cheek

    Joerg Piringer
    Donna Leishman
    J.R. Carpenter

Civil War Guide on iPad

HISTORY™ has created an app for the iPad: The Civil War Today . It explores every phase and aspect of America’s north-south conflict with daily updates that unveil the events in real time over the course of four years.

The Civil War Today leverages the iPad multi-touch interface, enabling subscribers to delve into thousands of original documents, photos, maps, diary entries, quotes and newspaper broadsheets like never before.

App Features

  • This Day in Civil War History

    Daily Civil War updates from April 12, 2011 through April 26, 2015.
  • Quote of the Day

    Compelling quotations from the men and women who lived through the war.

  • In the Headlines

    Explore every page of historic newspapers from each day of the conflict.
  • Day in the Life

    Through their letters and personal diaries, follow the lives of 15 people who experienced the Civil War firsthand.
  • Photo Gallery

    A collection of original images from the period in high-resolution.
  • By the Numbers

    The war through surprising facts and figures.

  • Battle Maps

    Follow in the soldiers’ footsteps with historic battlefield maps.
  • Casualty Counter

    Measure the true cost of the war through the lives that were lost.
  • North South Quiz

    Civil War knowledge with the daily North vs. South quiz.
  • Game Center Integration

    You can earn Civil War era appropriate achievements for your engagement with the application.

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations

Special issue of IJGCMS dedicated to the topic of Ludic Simulations

The International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations ( announces a call for papers for a for a special issue dedicated to the topic of Ludic Simulations, co-guest edited by Patrick Coppock (University of Modena & Reggio Emilia, Italy) and IJGCMS Editor-in-Chief Rick Ferdig (Kent State University, USA).
Call - Ludic here refers to Latin definitions of ludus, referring to fun, play or playfulness.  It might also widened to include the notion of entertaining facilitation, ease or pleasure of use.  Simulations are computer-mediated environments that provide opportunities for users to explore a world, an occupation, a task, etc..  We are making a broad assumption that all electronic games are simulations, but not all simulations are games.

We expect electronic games to be fun.  Games that are not fun are not played, understanding that "fun" is unique to each player.  However, we do not often expect simulations to be fun.  If a pilot or anesthesiologist is learning their vocation through virtual experiences, we seem to care more about their learning than whether they are having fun.  We want better doctors and better pilots first and foremost.

What does it mean, therefore, to have a simulation that could be called ludic?  Does making a more playful, fun, and pleasing to use simulation impact learning, retention, or practice?  Does a ludic simulation receive more critical reviews for not being serious enough?  What does it mean to make a simulation ludic, without turning it into a game?

The purpose of this special issue is to address the ludic nature of simulations.  Authors are invited to submit manuscripts that:
*       Present empirical findings on the use of ludic simulations
*       Push the theoretical knowledge of ludic simulations
*       Conduct meta-analyses of existing research on ludic simulations
*       Present innovative interfaces for ludic simulations, including testing/evaluation data

Potential authors are encouraged to contact Dr. Coppock ( or Dr. Ferdig ( to ask about the appropriateness of their topic.
Deadline for Submission:  July 15, 2012.
Manuscripts should be submitted in APA format.  They will typically be 5000-8000 words in length.  Full submission guidelines can be found at:

Mission - IJGCMS is a peer-reviewed, international journal devoted to the theoretical and empirical understanding of electronic games and computer-mediated simulations. IJGCMS publishes research articles, theoretical critiques, and book reviews related to the development and evaluation of games and computer-mediated simulations. One main goal of this peer-reviewed, international journal is to promote a deep conceptual and empirical understanding of the roles of electronic games and computer-mediated simulations across multiple disciplines. A second goal is to help build a significant bridge between research and practice on electronic gaming and simulations, supporting the work of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.


Ultra Haptics

Saw a great presentation last week by Sriram at the Pervasive Media studios in Bristol of some research at Bristol University into Ultra-Haptics. Ultra-Haptics is a system for creating haptic feedback in mid-air. It uses a property of ultrasound called “acoustic radiation pressure”. Waves of ultrasound displace the air, creating a pressure difference. By causing many waves to arrive at the same place simultaneously, a noticeable pressure difference is created at that point. With this method, we are able to create multiple, concurrent points of haptic feedback in mid-air.

 Here a small polystyrene ball is used to play Pong with virtual paddles-"ultra tangibles"

We would like to invite you to join us for this exploratory, practical workshop, investigating how the emerging field of UltraHaptics might be used in creative context.
UltraHaptics is a multi-point haptic feedback system that allows users to experience haptic feedback simultaneously in multiple locations. This feedback is created in mid-air – so users don’t have to touch or hold any device to experience it.

The use of ultrasonic vibrations is a new technique for delivering tactile sensations to the user. In essence, a series of ultrasonic transducers emit very high frequency sound waves. When all of the sound waves meet at the same location at the same time, they create sensations on a human’s skin.
More information on UltraHaptics can be found at
The University of Bristol and Pervasive Media Studio are joining forces to produce a workshop designed to better understand how creative practitioners and developers can work together in creating new and novel user experiences using a unique haptic system.

  1. Explore the design space and identify various application scenarios along with limitations and benefits of our system.
  2. Develop and share some ideas around haptic experiences, test and rapid prototype ideas in a supported environment.
  3. Investigate how designers and developers talk/ think together about designing multi-sensory experiences.

10 to 15 designers and developers working together in groups over two days. If you are interested in participating then please contact or Sriram Subramanian. We will aim to provide you with all the resources needed but if you have your own laptop it would be helpful to bring it along.


Each group will have access to the haptic kit along with a couple of projectors, and cameras. Through a series of guided and open sessions the groups will design and create a haptic experience. There will be several breakout sessions where teams can work on their design. We are keen to learn more about the design process so we will be talking and videoing (without disturbing) how the groups interact with each other during the breakout sessions. The workshop will finish in a summative group session.

Designing for community-powered digital transformations workshop, 15 May 2012

Tate Britain, London

The Space- convergent media showcase?

Digital transformations mean that cultural and media organisations now find themselves in a new environment in which communities of participants interact to create, curate, organise and support cultural experiences.

This was the third in a series of AHRC-funded events where practitioners and researchers came together to consider innovative practices, and develop new ideas together.

The event concerns digital platforms, which enable communities to aggregate and curate content created by a wide range of professional, semi-professional and amateur participants. Design makes a real difference: why is it, for instance, that members of the knitting network Ravelry tend to have a much higher quality of supportive conversation than the remarks on YouTube? How can we build sustainable cultural production and support creative curation?

Speakers included:
  • John Stack, Head of Tate Online showed a wide variety of participatory examples from the Tate's online history. The most striking of which was the opportunity to talk directly with Ai Wei Wei in China using the internet and record the conversation during the showing of sunflower seeds in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall- 25000 video recordings and a website where you can view these.

  • Jake Berger, Programme Manager – The Space, BBC showed the prototype of this convergent online magazine and showcase in collaboration with the Arts Council. The software itself is all open source and will be made available to artists and organisations to self-publish. The big question on the current site was one of gate-keeping and who decides on content. It seemed to boil down to a combination of low funding and institutional nerves that a two-way conduit with participants had not been established.

  • Martin Rieser, Professor of Digital Creativity, De Montfort University- I showed a range of projects chiefly dependent on the empedia platform, where public participation and contributions are part of the formula. see:
  • Claire Ross, UCL  was speaking about “Putting the Visitors first” in order to design better, more user friendly, digital experiences in Museums.  I used examples from the Social Interpretation project at IWM and the QRator project at the Grant Museum.   
  • Sunil Manghani, York St John University gave an intriguing talk where John Berger was pictured drawing out fascinated commentaries from school children on the sexual ambiguity at the heart of a Carravaggio painting. He posed two models: Dialectical and Dialogic for creative discourse using social media forms, favoring the Dialogic as more inclusive, subtler and effective.
The day involved presentations, discussions, and smaller-group conversations.The discussions were wide-ranging and covered all the problems of participatory forms-quality was perhaps under-discussed. I concluded we want two way participation- but we need to expect more of audiences- participation is not just admiring the wall paper. The focus and context are vital and this framing can avoid the accumulation of the banal, rude or irrelevant contribution.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Rainbows Children's Hospice at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Having recently completed a successful Knowledge Transfer Project with Rainbows, embedding social media and creative technologies into their operations to support income generation, we are now working with them on an entirely new project: the first digital installation in a show garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Generous donors to Rainbows have sponsored the unique garden in the ‘fresh’ section of RHS Chelsea Flower Show with a view to raising the profile of the hospice through media and related activity. The gardeners, Second Nature Gardens in association with BBC East Midlands gardener, Ady Dayman of Derry’s Nurseries in Cossington near Leicester, have a history of success in the high profile show – in 2009 they took a Bronze Medal for their design having first entered the show with a children’s themed garden in 2007.

Design of the Rainbows garden, image RHS Chelsea

The Rainbows garden has been designed for the hospice staff and the parents of children and young people as a place of reflection and relaxation, with a nod to current trends. It includes large frosted acrylic screens, forming the boundary walls and creating silhouettes of people and plants. Architectural amelanchier trees are being used with a sunken bed planting which is crossed by stepping stones. The piece de la resistance, however, is the digital animated projections that we are providing which will be triggered by people visiting the show garden, appearing on one of the acrylic screens.

The technology being used is part of our Retail Lab’s consultancy project arsenal and is normally used to gather data in retail stores, where it recognizes people’s age and gender as they pass by. In the show garden, this capability will be used to generate a unique interactive experience for visitors, based on their demographic profile: passers by will trigger an animation that has been created for their profile. The animations for the installation have been created by current Masters in Creative Technologies student, Noora Attia, who specializes in animation and design. The installation has been put together with the help of Quividi, a technology manufacturer, and local digital signage company, Working Solutions.

At Derry’s last week, testing some of the equipment for the 
show garden, image courtesy of Ady Dayman

After the show, the garden will be moved to the Loughborough based hospice where families and children can experience it for themselves. The interactive installation is, however, only going to be available to people who visit the show, so if you are near Chelsea in London and want to see the first digital installation to be used in a show garden, pop along to meet the team between 22-26 May.

You can capture a glimpse of the installation as we are setting up a quick test of the technology in the foyer of Fletcher building this week (Tuesday and Wednesday, 1-2 May) to check the triggers we've designed with the folk passing through the space do what we intend they will.