Bees in a Tin – call for unusual interfaces

I’ve been running the Many & Varied programme of events over at The Public, and as the last in that series (relocated to Birmingham, because The Public has now ceased to be) we’re gathering as many interesting and exciting people as we possibly can together in the same room at the same time.

The event is called Bees in a Tin and the call for proposals is here: (deadline January the 8th). Follow that link for full details and the application form.

So, if you make unusual interfaces for the world around you, get thinking about how you can use that day. Also have a think about who you’d like in that room with you and spread the word!

Coming up: The Mad Hatter’s Magic Tea Party

On Saturday the 19th of October I’ll be down in Bristol helping Watershed host The Mad Hatter’s Magic Tea Party – the only logical thing to follow up a family screening of Alice in Wonderland.

I’ll be enlisting the diners’ expertise to try and pin down what the Jubjub bird (mentioned in The Jabberwocky) looks and sounds like.

Here’s a sneak peek at how we’ll be going about that:

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my Twitter crowd-sourcing request and sent me a voice recording of what they thought the Jubjub sounds like – the above video is just a small selection.

Recording of the ARC A&Q discussion

Last Wednesday night we held the A&Q discussion session to round off my Artspace Research Commission. Present were representatives of the Coventry Artspace community including artists, studio holders, directors and board members.

Jon Randle bought along recording equipment, so we are able to share this documentation of the 90 minute free-form conversation:

Topics covered include:
multiple histories,
interacting with spaces,
unsuspecting audiences,
looking up,
the (non)exchange of stories,
non art audiences,
online experiences,
audience feedback,
to tweet or not to tweet,
the things you get used to,
secret messages and secret lives and giving the secret things voices,
invisible people,
existing as different things at different times,
connecting with the monkey,
unexplored spaces,
almost hearing the sermons,
doing it again,
engendering happiness,
steel-capped boots and caring for the building,
eradicating smells,
glitter balls,
non visuals,
void spaces,
not realising the basement is derelict,
Specials cotton wool and not being beholden to it,
what could be done with the xxxxx space?,
allowing cultural squatters,
ownership and territories,
heritage graffiti,
slightly blinkered views
and whitewashing.

Thanks to everyone who took part for an interesting conversation and a chance to look at the building, the residency and its various outcomes from various different perspectives.

A&Q session for ARC: Hijack

As I mentioned at the start of my week on the Artspace Research Commission, I suspected that the process would (and should) raise as many questions as it answered.

I made my devices; installed them in selected locations; and we stepped back and watched people discover and interact with them.

But it feels like the job would be unfinished if we left it at that.

What did we notice? What did we learn? What might we try next time?
(Writing this I’m suddenly reminded of the standard structure we used for our lab reports when I was an engineering student!)

This coming Wednesday you are invited to come along to Artspace and interact with the installations with a critical eye before participating in a round table discussion to wrangle with observations, intentions and aspirations. All welcome. It’s free. There will be biscuits.

Answer and Question Night with Nikki Pugh

Wednesday September 19th
6:30pm (7pm start) at Coventry Artspace
16 Lower Holyhead Road, Coventry, CV1 3AU [map]

Nikki, Artspace and the building are inviting you to be part of this conversation in a night of lively discussion where anything might happen.
Refreshments and interactions from 6:30pm
Discussion starts at 7pm
More information or to RSVP

Theremin Day

For the last month or so I’ve been helping Mr Underwood get the planning together for Theremin Day: an afternoon workshop building an optical theremin followed by an evening of film and performance, including a live set on theremin from Ms Hypnotique

Hard work, but what a great day!

The workshop had a great vibe, especially as the sounds of working optical theremin began to mingle with those of drilling and the occasional piano performance:


Pretty much everyone got their noise boxes finished and working, with some great playing styles starting to emerge:

noise boxes from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

After the workshop we did a quick changeover and re-arranged The Edge ready for the evening performances. There was much packing away of soldering tools; construction of staging; testing of audio and visual equipment. It all stopped when Susi started to play on her theremin. What an amazing sound: so different to anything else. Everyone was transfixed!


The evening event kicked off with a selection of short films exploring the historical, technical and fun sides of the theremin. This was then followed by a set from 8bit Pete and his Thingamagoops. This included a live mic off to the side of the stage where people could come up and contribute to the maelstrom of bleepy noises and flashy lights with the workshop-built theremin(s). [What is the plural?!]

Next up was Mr Underwood’s performance of Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music for optical theremin and torch. Brilliant. Pete Ashton has posted a nice video extract.

After that was the theremin set from Ms Hypnotique who performed a wide range of music for us. In her own words, the set list was described as: “Varese, Walter Carlos and forgotten scifi soundtracks”. She did an excellent job of interspersing the music with interesting explanations and anecdotes – entertaining and educational!

Here are my photos from the evening event followed by a couple of videos of Ms Hypnotique playing. The last video is how she ended the set. Perfect!

Ms Hypnotique performs from a visual score from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Ms Hypnotique knows her audience from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Thanks to everyone who supported and participated in the day.

Eastside Walk and Talk Event, Sunday 18th October

I’ve been walking many laps of the Eastside regeneration area over the last month or so, each time carrying a GPS unit in each hand, logging the positions they record and then converting the data into line drawings.

line drawing

The drawings are different each time. We knew that would happen.

What’s increasingly striking me though, is the amount of change I’m seeing in the landscape I walk through, even on the timescale of a couple of weeks: hoardings go up around construction sites; piles of rubble are shifted; graffiti is removed; and subways re-painted.

When I’m walking with my GPS units however, I cannot stop to investigate these things in more detail, or even to properly document them. I must keep walking past at a steady pace.

Curzon Street area nip and tuck

On Sunday the 18th of October I’m going to do a different type of walk, and I’d like you to join me.

Weather permitting, we will meet at the Old Crown pub (Corner of Heath Mill Lane and Deritend, Digbeth) from 2pm for a 2.30 start. We will then walk once around the perimeter of the regeneration area taking great care to stop, investigate, prod, document, tell stories about and explore things along the way. A no-frills walk takes about 90 minutes, so be prepared for this one to last 2 or more hours. No route march though – this will be very stop-start.

Bring comfortable walking shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather. Kendall mint cake optional. If the weather is too wet we’ll postpone things ’til another time. Announcements for rain-checks or otherwise will go out via my Twitter stream and via the Sunday Local show on Rhubarb Radio where I will, sometime between 12 and 2pm, be talking about the Eastside drawings I’m making. (‘cos that’ll work great on the radio!)

I have the beginnings of an idea that I might collate the photos, GPS drawings and other documentations into a printed magazine so that there is some sort of a record of what things are like now (and how we remember them being in the past) that we can look at a few years down the line when everything will have changed beyond recognition. When we do the walk again, maybe.

derelict factory

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