I decided to base my project around my passion for software coding and aerial (a circus acrobatics skill), which you can see me demonstrating on the left, along with learning computer hardware and adding that in.
During the year of the course me and the other Creative Technologists went to Manchester to visit "The Imitation Game" art gallery, where robotics and AI software were being exhibited, along with the "Future Everything" festival. This was particularly helpful to us as it helped communicate the different approaches we could take when exhibiting our own work.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation also got me in contact with a digital creator Paul Hayes, who I ended up doing an internship with for a short while. Paul was great to work with as I got to fill out parts of my Arts Award documentation via my conversations with him, and he helped me with certain parts of my project that I was struggling with. We would meet every few weeks and I would update him on any progress I had made, and we would spend a few hours working on particular parts I had trouble with while he taught me new concepts I didn't know. Working with Paul was invaluable as he also gave me the encouragement to carry on with my project when I was struggling.
My project involved a short piece of aerial rope. I wrapped copper wires amongst the threads of the rope and sent a charge down them, which caused them to create a sort of capacitive bubble around the rope, so when a human hand came into contact with the rope, they would act as sensors and send high values up to a receiver at the end of the rope. I would take this difference in values I run them through some code that would translate them into musical notes. With the end goal purpose being that an aerialist could perform on the rope and the movement they were performing to would generate music.
Raspberry Pi put me in contact with the company Bare Conductive. They specialise in capacitive sensing, which is what my project was based around, I got to have some really useful conversations with them about what the best way to approach my setup was.
I also got to meet with Sam Aaron, the creator of Sonic Pi, which was the program that I was using to play the sounds from the Raspberry Pi. This also wouldn't have been possible without the Raspberry Pi Foundations help and he was a great source of inspiration and help.
- Some sketches and writing from my meeting with Sam Aaron
One of the main challenges I faced during the year of the course was documenting my Arts Award progress. I ended up using Google Docs for this as it allowed me to access my work from any computer and also made linking to YouTube videos easy which is what I used to show my progression of prototypes with the project as the year went by.
Creative Technologists and myself showcased our final projects at the Raspberry Pi Towers as an art exhibition in which members of the public moved from room to room viewing and interacting with the pieces and talking to the creators. We recorded any feedback both in person and via social media by setting up our own account and creating a website with the domain RPCT.io
We're all very excited to see you at Pi Towers today for our #RPCT exhibition! pic.twitter.com/Cg95RMaeLm
— RPiCreativeTech 2016 (@RasPiCT) April 23, 2016
One of the most valuable parts of doing the Arts Award for me was the fact it forced me outside my comfort zone, everything I had created up until that point was purely software based. The majority of this project was hardware based and, because of that, I had become far more proficient with hacking together circuits than I thought possible at the beginning.
I had zero experience with hardware, which just goes to show that, with the right mentoring, anyone can do their Arts Award using technology no matter how much experience they have. I strongly suggest if you are considering doing an Arts Award that you either do it on technology at least in part. There's a lot of help out there if you get stuck and you won't regret it.