Tag Archives: digital

Drawing Machines

Over the last few weeks the pupils have been experimenting with engineering and design using LittleBits to prototype ideas quickly.

Some of the questions in the project include thoughts about how artists and creatives are able to come up with such wondrous magical and bonkers ideas and turn them into a reality.

Reverse Engineering?

How do we figure out the inner workings of an object? What parts is it made up of?  Our knowledge of Inputs and Outputs can give us some idea, however to really understand most designers, creative tinkerers and makers will actually take something apart to investigate it.

Deconstructing physically or even just in the thought process (can be applied to anything from software to objects) and figuring out how something was made is called Reverse Engineering.

Using this thought process we could work out what LittleBits we might want to use to construct objects we are already familiar with such as lights and alarms and other devices using sensors to detect the world around us.

 

Autonomy?

Interaction is brilliant however the majority of devices and objects perform tasks by themselves. Having things run with a sense of autonomy is key to figure out which parts of an object actually cant or don’t need to be interactive.

Autonomy is the ability to carry out a series of instructions (often repeated) without Input or user intervention.

Using these ideas and processes along with everything else we have learnt so far in the project we set about building our own drawing machines that could create artworks in the real world.

 

Art?

Does building a machine to draw art for us stop us being the actual Artist ?

By creating a device to work and create for us have we lost our creative input in to the artworks created ? A very interesting question to think about.

What parts of our drawing machine need to be repeated and which parts require user interaction. In fact, does our drawing machine even need interaction ?

What modules do we need ?

 

Drawing Machines?

By using our understanding of engineering, design and automation we can create an object using LittleBits modules, some craft materials and a lego wheel.

POWER -> SLIDE SWITCH or DIMMER SWITCH – > MOTOR – >LIGHT

By attaching only one lego wheel to the motor the whole object tilted and by its own weight held it as a pivot on one corner. This meant with the continuous turing of the motor and wheel (autonomy) the whole object spun around in a circle. By attaching pens using different methods and placings we could create spiragraph spiral drawing using our machines.

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After School Digital Arts and Technology Club

Hi my name is Ashley and I am slowly becoming known in the school as the ‘Makey Makey Man’. I am a digital artist and coder who uses technology to create playful creative works that range from smartphone applications to large scale art gallery light installations.

I have been working after school with Year 4 in our Digital Arts Club to start our exploration of Digital Arts, Creative Technology and using our artistic inventiveness to explore and understand computer programming and building our own interactive objects with a creative and playful outcome.

So far we have made pianos and musical instruments out of bananas! and our bodies. We have built moving flashing ghost drawings for Halloween and designed our inventions of the future.

As part of Back To The Future day we have been designing our own futuristic inventions.

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Makey Makey ?

We have used a Makey Makey , a digital interface that allows us to connect everyday conductive objects such as coins, fruit and ourselves to control content on the computer.

Using resistive electricity we create and connect circuits with these objects to the Makey Makey device so that when connected together by touching the objects with our body, they operate like a switch and simulate the pressing of a key on the computer, such as the spacebar.

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Little Bits ?

LittleBits are a system of digital building blocks that can be combined to create interactive objects. Much like a series of lego blocks these bits are magnetic and stick together. Through experimentation and understanding we can use them to combine multiple inputs and outputs and with a little crafting and imagination we can transform our ideas into working inventions. Each bit has a different function, some are input devices and sensors and others are output devices.

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LittleBits snap together in the following order: (Power -> Input ->Output ) By changing an Input or Output device we can create varying differences in our objects within seconds of experimentation.

In our club we have used LittleBits to make moving flashing objects for Halloween.

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See our devices in action:

Creating our own Drawing Tools

One of the amazing things about technology is in the way in which it can enable all of us to become makers and creators. We can learn a tool and then apply our own artistic and creative understanding to produce different outcomes from it. We can even make our own tools for expression.

This week the pupils in Year 5 and Year 6 have been programming their own drawing machines using Scratch.

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Programming?

Last week we looked at how programming is much like reading a list of instructions and making sure we apply those instructions in the correct order. Using our (if this, do that) method of understanding, we could build up a series of instructions to perform a program.

Computers are not as clever as us humans and so we need to give them exact instructions or they will not do as we ask. We can also figure out ways of getting them to perform lots of tasks with as little effort from us as possible.

We must remember that there can often be many different ways to solve the same problem in programming.

 

Variables?

Last week we also explored variables – values that are stored on the computer and can change either via instructions from the program or from user interaction, such as pressing a key on the keyboard.

We looked at 2 types of variables: strings which are characters, letters or words and integers which are whole numbers.

Our integer variables this week were the co ordinates of the character on the screen, called ‘x’ and ‘y’. By changing the numbers we could manipulate the character and make it move. Using our (if this, do that) structure we could create a keyboard press IF and a variable change THAT to produce the movement. We had to press the key a lot of times to make our character move about !

 

Recursion?

To create instructions that repeat themselves over and over again we learned about ‘Recursion’ or Looping/Repeating. This enables us to take a few instructions and repeat them many times without having to keep sending the same instructions again and again.

Making our character move with one instruction was really fun. Making him move 20 steps in one direction involved a lot of key presses; imagine that it needed to move 1000 steps….

By taking an instruction and repeating it we could have one key press perform many actions for us!

 

 

 

Drawing Tools?

Learning repetition is much more fun when we can use it to draw shapes for us on screen.

Understanding how to repeat a simple instruction such as move forward and turn right 90 degrees we could build up repetitions to allow us to instruct the computer to move in a square shape and draw it out for us. (Hint: we repeated the instruction 4 times)

Using Scratch, we were able to take simple instructions and repeat them to create our own creative drawing tool. Using the Pen commands we created a spirograph/etch-a-sketch tool that responded to our inputs from the keyboard.

By changing the variables we could create different shapes and colours. By adding in the ability to stamp our character sprite on the screen we could create colourful spiral drawings made of ghosts, unicorns and cats.

 

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Every Child – Becoming Digital Artists

Hi my name is Ashley and I am slowly becoming known in the school as the ‘Makey Makey Man’. I am a digital artist and coder who uses technology to create playful creative works that range from smartphone applications to large scale art gallery light installations.

I have been working in school with Year 5 and Year 6 to start our exploration of Digital Arts, Creative Technology and using our artistic inventiveness to explore and understand computer programming with a creative and playful outcome.

So far we have made pianos and musical instruments out of bananas! and our bodies. We have created games controllers to play Flappy Bird with our own colourful play dough creatures.

 

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Art?

We are understanding what it means to be creative and use technology as our medium to become aspiring Digital Artists of the future.

We have explored what it means to be an ‘artist’ and to have an art form or ‘practice’ that describes what you do or make. We looked at ‘mediums’ or materials,tools and processes that allow you to be able to create that art form.

Technology?

We are using throughout the project a variety of technology, hardware and software solutions to enable both creative outputs and understanding. These tools are available globally and empower users to make and be creative through light, sound, touch, movement and coding – real world physical interactions that get us looking beyond the screen and the digital world. We are investigating how different interfaces and different people interact with computers in fun and playful ways.

We have used a Makey Makey , a digital interface that allows us to connect everyday conductive objects such as coins, fruit and ourselves to control content on the computer.

Using resistive electricity we create and connect circuits with these objects to the Makey Makey device so that when connected together by touching the objects with our body, they operate like a switch and simulate the pressing of a key on the computer, such as the spacebar.

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Coding?

Behind the creative outputs is the understanding of how computers, and more importantly ‘logic’ and instructional programming  works.

We have been learning about INPUTS and OUTPUTS and creating basic blocks of instructions using an ‘IF THIS happens, then DO THAT’ understanding.

We have started to create our own digital media on the computers using a visual programming language called Scratch which enables us to create games, animations and drawings using defined blocks of code that join together like modular building blocks, like a kind of digital lego. So far the children are using simple INPUTS of keyboard presses to move a character around the screen (OUTPUT).

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Every Child Is An Artist

This term we have launched a new project for the year called Every Child Is An Artist. Children in years 1-6 will be working with the Mercurial Dance team every week and this terms theme is Digital Arts.  A whole school project will develop the children’s creative, artistic and design skills.

Our Focus for the Autumn is Digital Arts: taking the children to the latest in digital making, creating, hacking, coding as we build towards a game and installation in December. In our creative journey we start to look at what makes up a city? and how might we augment reality

Leading the Mercurial Dance team is Artistic Director Oliver Scott and this project builds on some of the arts and film projects he have led in the school.

Here is a bit of info about the Artists your children are working with this term.

Oliver Scott., Mercurial Dancer – Dance with years 1&2

Oliver will be developing a new dance curriculum for the Oasis Hobmoor welcoming and working alongside a new dancer to the Mercurial team for the autumn with Years 1 and 2.

Oliver Scott is a versatile individual. He is artistic director of Mercurial Dance, and founding trustee of Mercurial Arts Charity. His work spans roles as a performer, choreographer, artist educator and arts consultant/producer. He has toured internationally, performing with a range of dance and theatre companies. Highlights include launching the Bubble Chamber, Mercurial’s pop up performance space for dance and technology;  recent Mercurial Dance productions include Fair Youth (2015) a duet for libraries inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and the fun projects at Oasis Hobmoor such as Aspire! week, The school anthem En’Light’en and digital dance work Chaotic Liquid Network (2014)

 

Ashley Brown – Digital Artist and Coder – Years 5&6

Ash will be working with Makey Makey’s, Littlebit and Arduinos to explore physical computing with Yrs 5 and 6. It could include turning a bunch of bananas into a keyboard and playing music or seeing how your pot plant sounds when you stroke its leaf!

Ash has worked with Mercurial Dance for a number of projects over the last 6 years. His work includes creating interactive objects and environments, hacking and repurposing devices, crafting code and working at the intersection between art, technology and design to uncover and reveal new potential and crafting beautiful (and not so) objects that make people smile for the past 6 years. Ash produces electronica and dubstep under the name DJ Arctic Sunrise.

Darius Powell – Digital Artist and Game Designer

Darius will be working on creating a game environment with Years 3 and 4, populating a virtual world with avatars, buildings and creations.

Darius is a digital artist and tutor who is also based at QUAD in Derby with over 10 years experience in animation and media. Darius regularly works on media products requiring his skills in video, animation, motion graphics, Photoshop and interactive design. A regular workshop leader, he has delivered animation training to thousands of people aged 3 – 80+.

Emma Puente – Filmmaker

Emma will be working with year 2H, 3 and 4 working on Filmmaking, animation, editing and skilling up the children for a launch of Hobmoor TV later in the Autumn Term.

Emma produces videos, works with image editing, animation, design and other things of that ilk. She has led many workshops with both young people and adults on the use of creative software and equipment, mainly with a focus on filmmaking or animation but occasionally other pursuits such as image editing and comic creation. She has taught at schools, youth/art centres, museums and village halls.