Posts about ‘mind’

Toys that need help


Berg and Dentsu have made Suwappu, toy animals imprisoned in tiny digital pens that follow them wherever they go, tolerant and understanding of the dark inner lives each lead and the destructive impulses that follow bad dreams, dreams made of unbalanced psyches and snippets of the commercial fog surrounding them. At the mercy of promotional messages from car manufacturers and record companies, they struggle to connect their debilitated and half-formed consciousnesses, trying to assert basic values of trust and dependence as best they can with their stunted minds.

Their situation reminds me of the sort of existential struggles Russell Hoban’s toy characters live with, the drummer and the clock in the Mouse and his Child, the wind-up tin frog in love with La Gioconda, with their personalities crushed almost into nothingness by the constraints of their form and experience, tiny glimmers of self trapped in a hallucinatory interdimensional timelessness. I don’t think Badger will ever stop having bad dreams.

Update: Rodcorp adds what I want to call suwappu fanfic – love the Riddley Walker/primal tone, brilliant – very We3

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Interesting Sounds


On Sunday I got myself down to the Arnolfini for Interesting Sounds, an event that grew out of Russell Davies’ Interesting events. I couldn’t stay for the whole day, unfortunately, but what I saw was fantastic. Adam Harding showed us his reconfigured guitar, moving the essential parts into a rectangular board that can be played like a dulcimer: the distancing effect of changing the relationship between player and instrument suited his delicate abstractions. Jon Pigott showed us the Sonic Marble Run (see video below).

Grace showed us a video of the Dynion Dance Group dancing on Swansea’s Sail Bridge, choreographed by Paul Granjon. Matthew Olden demoed the latest version of Jungulator. Allen Argent showed us more MaxMSP madness, with a set of patches enabling collaboration and control across networks (my favourite was Netverb, which added reverberation effects computed from the shape of the network: echoes from a virtual room whose walls are made out of TCP/IP packets). We saw John Wild’s Sounds from the Perimeter Fence, recontextualising the site of the Olympics: gorgeous, bleak sounds, as you can see below.

I talked a little bit about an idea I had for making it nicer to be outside in cities:

- it’s all a bit jumbled at the moment, but I’d like to try making an antibeep and see if it works. I tried to make one using two Buddha machines, but it didn’t really work.

And then I just had time to see David Hanford’s Sound Chair (a thirties chair with speakers in the back and base and controls on the arm like a supervillain, intended for the subsonics produced from the beats of two analogue oscillators) and Tom Bugs demoing his analogue intricacies, it was lunchtime and time for me to go home.

I missed most of the rest of the day, but I think video and audio from the day will be up at soon. Can’t wait for the next one.

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I made my New Year resolutions in December. It wasn’t a long list, and to be honest doing it a month early took care of both Making Better Use Of Your Time and Planning Ahead, which left only Picking Up After Myself and Try Not To Be Such A Muppet on there, once I’d edited it down a little.

I’m not really a fan of resolutions, and now I’m not so brand-new in the world I think I prefer a firmly-set jaw and a general feeling of trying to live a better life, rather than a list of things I haven’t yet failed at. More focus on the wood and not so much on the trees. I’ve got some specifics, though: be less pompous, take more notice of other people, that sort of thing.

Unlike previous years, I’m doing something about them for once. In common with other people reaching thirty and encountering an icily convincing sense of personal mortality for the first time, I started running more often last year: yesterday, in keeping with the other bit about taking more notice of other people in the world, I signed up for the Bath Half Marathon and told Mind I’d raise some money for them.

If you’d like to sponsor me, and have a little bit of my moral high ground make its alluvial way towards your conscience, or perhaps address one of your own resolutions with no more than a couple of clicks of the mouse, or even just lend your support to a group of people working for better mental health for everyone, you can do that here. I know we’re in the throes of economic turmoil, and folding money’s not as easy to come by as it used to be, and if you want to save your endangered pounds for something trivial, like the weekly food shop, then that’s perfectly understandable. But if you’ve got anything left over from eBaying your Christmas presents then there are worse places to put it. Like a bank.

Happy New Year, and here’s to it working out ok for all of us.

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