Archive for the 'Experimental' Category

How to win a BAFTA for social media wizardry

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

We’ve all been in those marketing meetings when everyone gets a bit over excited talking about ‘award winning campaigns’. We’re high on inspiration, a bit rowdy perhaps, and start believing that perhaps world domination is merely one single well-timed mouse click away. Of course (most) awards worth having are hard fought little things, and your best shot is at something in your niche. I mean, you’re not exactly going to win a Nobel Prize for the best kick ass facebook application, right? For argument’s sake, let’s imagine for a second that you could win a BAFTA for your social media wizardry… how might you go about that?

Well, first of all you’ll be needing a great CONCEPT.
The best campaigns are based around ideas that are actually quite simple – an open concept that forms the brief for the final product. When you get your brief, you might like to deconstruct it and find a single nugget that stands out – something as simple as, say, the human need to feel loved. So take that concept, and create a new brief based around that. Let’s say you come up with: “Build a tool that illustrates, using social media, the human need to feel loved – and its tendency towards narcissism”.

Now that’s a brief.

Next you’ll need a CONNECTION or an association.
This is something that connects your concept (that floaty thing) to something existing, live, and kicking. For example, you might want to associate the concept with a group of people, your target audience perhaps… Not something too broad like ‘The yoof of today’. Perhaps instead choose something specific that we can all relate to, such as: “A young, media savvy unsigned band, fighting it out on Myspace, Facebook, Youtube and the like, in search of that elusive record deal”. Sound familiar?

Ok, we have a narcissistic unsigned band, fighting for a record deal, desperately wishing everyone loved them.

Now we need something totally unique, a RANDOMISER.
It’s the equivalent of feeding your fantastic idea through the Enigma machine to produce something totally unexpected. We need to take this existing (now grounded) concept, and warp it through the mind of a mad genius or two, shock it with electricity, make it travel back in time for a while, hook it up to the social web, give it the means to make music, and then squeeze it into an antique cupboard placed in the corner of a modern art gallery.

Now THAT sounds award winning, right?

Introducing Cybraphon – the BAFTA award winning Autonomous Emotional Robot Band

This 1 minute video explains it perfectly:

“Cybraphon automates the now-familiar process of musical performance, followed by obsessive tracking of online opinion, and subsequent mood swings. It is the 21st century equivalent of the player piano, but instead of your coins, it begs for your attention in the online world. Its music is purely acoustic, played robotically on antique and junk-shop instruments in a gallery in Edinburgh; but what it plays is driven by its mood, and this is shaped by its 24-hour monitoring of the whole of the web for comments, reviews, or simply traffic to this web page.”

Genius, no?

Well done Si Kirby for winning a BAFTA for the best use of social media I’ve ever seen. You’ve set the bar buddy, now watch while everyone struggles to keep up.

Here’s the HOW and WHY for those that want to know more.

I highly recommend that everyone watches one or two of the videos on Cybraphon’s video page to see the incredibly long and hard fought year of genius that led to the launch of Cybraphon.

Oh, and here’s a video and some photos that I took at the launch of Si’s last genius project ‘Etiquette’ (a table that could see and play very good music), which was on display at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop a couple of Edinburgh Festival’s ago. That’s me in orange on the right.


Playing with filters

Monday, May 19th, 2008

A very kind friend of my flatmates dropped by with a chunky roll of scrap filters from the theatre that he works in. Contained within were lots of pieces of four main Lee filter colours, and I decided to stick them up to my window:

Lee filters on Edinburgh Castle

Just for reference, here’s the scene without any filters:
Lee filters on Edinburgh Castle

This photo is with just the yellow filter. It did appear yellow for a second but the iPhone adjusted, and it came out like this:
Lee filters on Edinburgh Castle

Here with just the red filter, pretty cool:
Lee filters on Edinburgh Castle

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. I started to overlay the filters, this one is the Red and Blue filters combined:
Lee filters on Edinburgh Castle

and this is Red and turquoise, my fave by far:
Lee filters on Edinburgh Castle

I can’t believe how infra red some of these photos look! So much fun, I’m definitely inspired to start playing with filters more. Also, putting filters onto flash heads will definitely be interesting.

Renaissance series

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Here’s a selection of photos from a series of six (the rest of which you can see on my flickr page if you’d like).

If you wouldn’t mind helping me out, I’d be incredibly interested to hear what you feel these photos communicate to you. They were a response to a competition brief, and if by some miracle they get shortlisted, I promise I’ll tell you what the story is meant to be. Till then, do let me know what you think as it’d be a great way for me to learn how to successfully express an idea visually.




Big thanks go to Ross Kilgour and Tess Mitchell for being my beautiful and imaginative models. They were both superb. Thanks also to Anna Gibson who agreed to be my photographers lackey and press the smoke button and move the lights about on demand.

LensBaby in Colour

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Having posted these photos in B&W I went over the originals again. I think that they may look better in colour. The blue is particularly distinct. I like.



Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Si, of Etiquette fame, leant me his LensBaby a few weeks ago and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to give it a go. Last weekend down at loch lomond I happened upon an old tractor left to rust away which seemed a perfect candidate. It had been taken over by spiders and all sorts, the light was dropping fast but I had a go anyway.

I don’t know the science behind what makes this lens work, but it’s different to any other lens out there. Instead of rotating the lens to focus or zoom, you pull, twist, and shape the lens in any direction to create any number of different effects. They’re funny looking things, and produce even odder photos. See this flickr page for a whole array of lensbaby photos.

Here below is a gallery of my attempts.


Oh, and a few others from the same spot that aren’t lensbaby (except for the last one). A pretty place that Loch Lomond.

Etiquette: interactive music installation.

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

You should have seen this, it was amazing! My mate Si and some ever so musical friends of his (Si’s musical too) created a table that could see and speak. On the table you placed different packages, each package containing a different sound and ability to alternate its sound. Depending on where you placed the package on the table, the sound would move around the room to match.

After months of preparation, design and creation, ‘Etiquette’ debuted in a white room down at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Leith.

Rave reviews were received during the festival, but at the end of August there was nowhere for it to go. Plans were being made to dismantle and discard this wonderful machine! But at last, someone has come to the rescue and Etiquette is now going to be set up in the Edinburgh Central Lending Library on George IV Bridge. I don’t know exactly when, but perhaps if you check back at the Etiquette website you may be able to find out more.

Here are some photos which I took during a talk and hands-on session which Si and his musical pals – also known as FOUND held near the end of the festival.

Oh, and by the way, you can download some wonderful music (yes, proper music) that was created by this machine in the steady hands of FOUND, from this link: Download


Eerie candle lit scene

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

piano player with candles

I’m going to do a whole series experimenting with this idea, I only took a couple like this because it was getting late… more to come in due course.

A bit of experimentation

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

A few nights ago I was playing about with candles and long exposures in our living room, I was pretty pleased with the results. I’ll post them up later, but last night during soundcheck at an Amplifico gig I fancied a bit of something different so took a few photos like this. I’ll only post the one up because the rest were pretty blurred.

woman on stage playing piano