Past Resident Recognised in Celebration of Unorthodox Instruments

A big congratulations to Monica Rikic, one of our 2014 artists-in-residence, who has been nominated for the 2015 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition. Monica was recognised for her project, Buildacode, which she developed during her residency with The Cube last year.

The competition celebrates pushing musical boundries, and challenging the way instruments and music have traditionally worked.

Monica is among 20 semifinalists to receive international recognition for out-of-the-box musical creations. Instruments from this year’s semifinalists range from sculptable interfaces to the Space Age string instrument, the Yaybahar.

Keep an eye out for those colourful cubes – they will be showcased in the coming months and at Robotronica in August this year.

Buildacode – Tangible Sound Programming from Mónica Rikić on Vimeo.

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Buildacode project launched!

Designed by The Cube’s artist-in-residence, Mónica Rikić, Buildacode was showcased to the public for the very first time over the weekend.

Buildacode is an experimental tool for sound programming, which seeks the integration of objects’ manipulation into a visual programming environment for real-time sound creation.

The project aims to allow people with or without previous programming knowledge to enjoy tangible sound coding through the manipulation of friendly objects.

Buildacode does this by using 24 colourfully decorated foam cubes of 25cm³ each. By building different figures and shapes with the cubes, users can play with different sounds and compositions.

Watch the final project here and stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to interact with the project!

Move On – New Media Art from Australia, Canada and Europe / EMARE Australia Canada is supported by the Culture 2013 program of the European Commission and the Goethe-Institut.

Buildacode Progress and Interactive Puppetry Workshop

The Cube’s Artist-In-Residence, Mónica Rikić, talks about how difficult it can be to get velcro in Australia, and shares some pictures from her last workshop at The Cube.

Mónica: When developing a new media art project, you normally have to deal with unexpected problems with the hardware you’re using, installing it, finding the right one, upgrading to the latest version etc… Well funnily enough the only hardware I use is a computer, a PSEye and a projector (nothing special) but it seems to be more difficult to get velcro, fabrics and transfer paper than a spaceship! 😛

I have to admit that nothing has gone smoothly during the development of the project for many different reasons. It seemed the stars aligned to make every single step more difficult, especially when it came to  the material. As an example, I’m going to tell you the story of the velcro…

Where’s the Velcro?

When I did the material list for the project I was pretty sure that everyting was easy to find, except from the fact that we are in Australia and I’ve just discovered that things are a bit more difficult to find here. So after a week of finding a way of printing the Fiducials on the covers, then finding an inkjet printer (mission quite impossible nowadays really!!), running out of ink, printing the transfers, the transfers stopped working, going to the shop again, complain and get them changed, print them again and ironing 72 different ones, I was ready to do the patches.

We thought it would be a good idea to stick them with velcro instead of sewing them directly to the covers. This way, if the cubes or the project want to be adapted for other purposes it’ll be much easier. Then we entered in the incredible world of verlcro: hook, hook & loop, stick in, iron in, sew in, 12mm, 20mm, 25mm, black, white, cut in circles – doesn’t matter which one you choose, all of them are way too expensive!!!

So after some days of thinking about the best and cheapest option, Lubi decided to order them online at this shop that looked quite effective… After a week they came home to deliver it, there was nobody there and they took it to the next town half on hour drive from Brisbane (!!!!!!!). We called them and asked them to re-deliver it the next day. They said yes but never came so we called them. For some reason they couldn’t re-deliver it so we asked them to bring it closer. They agreed. I went the next day to get it. After 30 min walk to the place and 45 minutes arguing with the poor lady there, I had to go home with nothing and nobody knew where the package was. After lots of phone calls, Lubi found it in Darra, 15 min driver from Brisbane, so Britt and I went to collect it. We had to register, get a badge, enter the place with the car with the four indicators on, get the package, check out the package and open the car boot (to see if we didn’t have any illegal immigrant with us I guess – don’t worry mate, all the foreigners are in the front!) 😛

And that is how I got my velcro finally. After that my laptop charger broke, the puppetry workshop material took ages to arrive, it’s been very difficult to get the right place to test because everything seems to be full booked and I only have two weeks to go. But it’s all good, without these little problems life wouldn’t be as exciting as it is, and for me the project is really worth it!!

Finally, the cubes are done!

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The Interactive Puppetry Workshop

I think that this next picture just shows the whole feeling of yesterday’s puppetry workshop. Once again, amazing kids, amazing job!

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Buildacode Testing and Musical Plants

Artist-in-Residence Mónica Rikić tests out the Buildacode cubes, and shares about her time at the Garduino and Makey Makey workshops.

Mónica: There’s only a bit more than 3 weeks to go now and YES I think I’m allowed to say that I’m a bit stressed 🙂

I’m planning to do a first test with kids on Saturday next week so I have to work very hard in order to get as much as I can done by then.

I finally managed to get the transfers done in the cubes – believe me, it wasn’t easy – and almost all the patches are ready, except for some that I still have to decide, and I’m just waiting for the velcro to arrive so I can attach them to the covers.

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The first test has lead me to some conclusions that I didn’t think about before. For this version of the project, for example, the space will be reduced to fit the 24 cubes in scene and no more like before. Some of the interactions I was thinking about didn’t work as well as I expected so I was able to correct them and make them easier and simpler, which will make not only my job easier, but will improve users’ understanding of the project. I almost have all the MIDI part of the project ready. Next week I’ll be working with the synthesizer side of the project! For me it’s the best bit but I know that I have to make it easier so the kids understand and enjoy it!

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Another bit I’ve been working on this week is the visual feedback. It’ll help the users to understand what they’re doing and it’ll also be very useful to deliver workshops to teach music principles and programming, which is one of my main goals in the project. I’m working around getting the same style the patches of the cubes have so it’s easy to relate. I still have to decide if I’ll put some text in the cubes’ visual feedback, but I’m pretty sure I will in some of them so I don’t have to give much further instruction.

I also had a meeting with the guys who are in charge of the setting of the project at The Cube when it’s done and I’m quite happy because they were very nice and apparently it’ll be easy to set up. So thumbs up for this and keep working hard for me!!! 🙂

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Workshops

This weekend I gave the Garduino workshop for making musical instruments with plants. I was really looking forward to delivering this workshop. Although the weather was horrible on Saturday, I had seven cute little kids join the workshop.

I was pretty amazed by how many things they already knew, particularly those children who often attend activities at The Cube. I’m actually a bit jealous I have to say!!! How I wish I could have had access to a place like this with all these workshops and learning facilities… And also how I wish new technologies would’ve been as accessible as they are now back when I was a kid!! I hope those kids are able to appreciate this at the same time they enjoy as much as they do!

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And to finish, I’d like to thank all the Visual Art students I had during the three Makey Makey workshops I delivered. I’m very impressed by their dedication and engagement. I hope I’ve been able to open a little door – or window – to a new world of possibilities for them the same way new tech did to me as an art student. Thanks very much for all the respect and attention they’ve all had and for making me feel as happy as I feel now! Great experience!

And of course thanks to The Cube for giving me the opportunity to do all these workshops during my residency! 🙂

Here’s one last image of a project one group of the Visual Art students did at the Makey Makey workshop.

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Buildacode – Halfway There!

The Cube’s Artist-In-Residence, Mónica Rikić, talks about new updates in Buildacode, the GAME ON Symposium, and Visual Art student workshops.

Mónica: Last week has been quite busy! I’m now halfway through my residency and I have to be 100% hands on with the project.

All the basic functions of the code are finished and I’m preparing the physical part of the project, which means that I’ll be cutting and sewing for the rest of the week 🙂 . It’s actually quite nice to have to be away from the computer and still feel I’m working hard on the project. The whole point of the project is to get out of the screen and learn sound and coding basics, so it feels very good to experience it in the process too! It feels like the right thing to do!

I almost have all the drawings/patches done, there’s some that I’ll decide when I do the live tests since I need to check that my ideas are working correctly. I’m happy to have Jeniffer Heng to help me with the sewing and the testing, I’m sure she’ll give me good advice!

Also, I’ll be doing a two-day Masterclass focusing on education and art students the last week of August and the first of September, where I’ll be talking about my research and new ways of teaching new technologies through new technologies themselves. I’m sure some really good advice will come out of working with the students around the project. Better teamwork than lonely work! Like Zach Lieberman said last week in his talk at The Cube, it’s time to go from DIY to DIWO (do it with others!).

GAME ON Symposium

GameOn

So last week’s highlight was definitely the GAME ON Symposium organised by my beloved Truna. It was a weekend of interesting talks and workshops around gaming and the games industry. There was this amazing showcase of home grown games that was full most of the day, which means succes! Congratulations to Truna, Lubi and the rest of the team for the event!

I went to Zach Lieberman’s Openframeworks workshop on Sunday. Although we didn’t really actually code anything, it was very interesting to talk about the structure of Openframeworks, see some exercises and go through the code to understand the process that was happening and how to create a project – good start.

The funniest part was when, just at the end of the workshop, Friedrich Kirschner dressed in a garbage bag entered the room with Lubi asking if we wanted to join a cocacola-mentos fight… of course I joined! So much fun hahaha! I’l try to get some photos soon and post them too…

I’m actually quite grateful the symposium happened during my residency and I got to know Friedrich, such a nice person and friend I just made 🙂

Workshops

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I’ve already done two out of three Makey Makey workshops for Visual Art students. I think both of them went really well. My hope is to open a little door for them to understand new technologies applied to arts so they can use them as another material to experiment with. I’m pretty sure it’s working in many cases 🙂

I was very surprised with the motivation of both groups during the workshop. At the end of the workshop they had to show what they’ve done in groups and I loved how they took so much care in the setup of the exercise as if it were a real piece. Thank you for that guys, your motivation is my best reward!

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I’ll go back to this workshops next week as soon as they’re all done.

This weekend I’ll be giving a Garduino Workshop at The Cube. We’ll do an introduction to Arduino, sensors and sound by creating a musical instrument from a plant. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I’m actually very excited…

Buildacode: First Steps

After a week of residency and a fun day at the beach with some friends, Mónica Rikić is feeling more than ready to start talking about the first steps of her project.

Mónica: Last week was a bit intense since I had to put my head into the project and get used to the new working environment. I also had my first JumpstArt program workshop, and even though I’ve done many similar workshops back home it’s never the same to deal with school kids from another country! 🙂

It went really well and this week we’ll be doing the second group of children of the same program and I’m really looking forward to it.

So, about Buildacode I can say that I’ve started to make some decisions about how the first stage of development will be. I’ve been working mainly in building MIDI sounds for the moment and messing around with the TUIO emulator to be able to decide the rest of the materials for The Cube – reacTIVision transfers and other drawings. Now I’ve got the code ready to be able to create different notes of a piano and play it either by activating the sounds with another cube or by building a metronome. I’m also able to change the instrument, the velocity and the length of every sound separately so I’m having a good idea of how the MIDI part should be right now.

I’ve also been messing around with waves: creating them, changing the pitch, the volume and deciding the interactions that will make all of these events happen. Looking good!

I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of making it as intuitive as possible so for this first stage I’ve decided to keep it simple and restrict the possibilities of creation and interaction until I can have a first real test with the cubes and someone else playing to see how it goes to make the changes needed to make it easy to play.

Oh BTW, I’ve started a website for the project. It’s just a ‘coming soon’ website but I’ll give you the link here to keep you updated with the logo 🙂

Buildacode – Getting Started

The Cube welcomes its newest Artist-in-Residence Mónica Rikić on her first day at The Cube!

Mónica: So the time has arrived! After all the rush: finishing work, back home, some Australian holidays down in Northern Rivers and visiting some good friends in Sydney, it is time to start working!

Just met all the team at The Cube and I’m feeling at home 🙂

I made an ‘Australian wok paella’ last night so now I’m full of energy to face all the workshops I’ll be doing during the next 9 weeks and developing the project Buildacode.

Workshops

The first thing I had to do was to plan the workshops so I’ll talk a bit about that:

I’ll be doing a total of 5 different activities during my stay

The first one is already next week. It’s part of a program called JumpstART for Year 7 students in Kelvin Grove State College and this year’s theme is Future communities, how can we contribute in a positive way to bettering or improving our communities?.

The kids have already built ‘community centers/buildings’ made from recycled materials. What we’ll do in the workshop is to take this ‘city’ one step further by adding sound to the buildings and making them interactive with Makey Makey. So this will be Wednesday next week 23 July and another one the next Wednesday 30 July. I’ll be posting some pictures in this blog and more info!

After this, the first three Mondays of August I’ll be doing another three Makey Makey introduction workshops, but this time for First Year Visual Arts students. I’m pretty excited about this since they’re not related to new technologies at all, I studied Fine Arts too and getting to know new tech changed my vision of art and became my media. So I hope I can open new ways of expression to some of them!

The next one will be for the National Science Week. It’s going to be a pretty cool workshop I have to say… I can’t wait to see how it turns out 🙂  It’ll be a two day, four hour intensive Arduino introduction workshop for children where they’ll have to create a musical instrument from a plant – sounds nice doesn’t it? The idea was to make a Arduino workshop and making musical instruments out of plants sounded funnier than making the usual watering systems so we’re going for that! This will be 16-17 August and it’s open for anyone to enrol! More info coming soon.

By this time we’ll be getting to the end of August and Buildacode should be quite advanced, so for my next activity which is a Masterclass for QUT students (27 August & 3 September) about using new tech in education, I’ll be introducing the project. It’ll be a two-session Masterclass. The first one will be more theorical and in the second one we’ll be working with Buildacode to create a common education mini-project with it.

And last but not least, on 30 August I’ll be doing an Interactive Puppetry workshop for the Young Scholars program. It’ll be a three-hour workshop where they’ll have to create their own puppet from a sock and add some little electronic tricks to make it interactive. It’ll all be up to their imagination!

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Buildacode

As soon as I arrived to The Cube I wanted to see the cubes – yes, everything is very ‘cubical’ – that I’ll use for creating Buildacode which they told me have arrived.

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I can only say THEY ARE GREAT!! I had to take one home so I could see it all the time…

For the moment no more news about the project that I haven’t already said, so I’ll keep you informed about all the changes. Just making some decisions on materials and development now…

Buildacode – What’s This All About?

In her first post, The Cube’s new Artist-in-Residence Mónica Rikić will introduce herself and her work, and give an insight into what she plans to achieve during her residency.

About me

Let me first introduce myself: I’m Mónica Rikić. I’m an interactive artist and programmer from Barcelona and I’ve been awarded an EMARE MoveOn Residency to develop my project Buildacode, an iteration of my other project Buildasound, at The Cube, QUT. I studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona and did a Masters in Digital Arts at UPF (Barcelona). My project Buildasound started as the final project of this Masters back in 2010. At the moment it’s exhibited at the Ars Electronica Center (Linz).

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Statement

I see the game as an artistic experience, and playing as the ratio existing between the piece and the public. I am interested in interactive art and therefore I understand the art piece as an element to be appropriated by the public (or as I define it, the user). The piece is thus a creative tool available to him/her.  As an artist, I am dedicated to the creation and study of new technologies. I am interested in enhancing its tools to find new creative and educational methods. I believe we are in an artistic transition, so I mix known and comfortable materials with new technological devices. I want to use them as transitional objects in order to reduce the impact of the use of new technologies and their dazzling effect on the public for being something that does not belong in their everyday relationships. By removing this fear, I intend to promote experimentation and therefore creation.

The best way to bring art closer is through art itself, and code is my artistic language.

Buildasound

Buildasound is a sound building blocks game. It consists in creating shapes at the same time that you generate new sounds: there is no single objective (winning or losing), but instead the entertainment involved in playing for playing’s sake, and the opportunity to discover new melodies and constructions and constant creation based on the different positions of the cubes.

Buildasound – Full description from Mónica Rikić on Vimeo.

It is made of 25 foam blocks of 25cm3 each and lined with fabric. Three of the sides are of a different color – red, violet, green – and belong to a different game. The opposite side of each side of the game, which is white, has the image recognition code that will be read by the camera and sent to the computer. Once the computer receives it, it sends a signal to the software that will translate it and will send the correct sound to the speakers.

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Made with: Reactivision, Pure Data and Processing.

Buildacode

This new version of the project will be an experimental tool for sound creation, which seeks the integration of object’s manipulation into a visual programming environment for real-time sound creation/programming. My main interest is to develop a platform for people that with or without previous programming knowledge, would be able to enjoy tangible sound coding through the manipulation of friendly objects (soft, large, cosy and colourful) instead of lines of incomprehensible code.

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My other projects

I’ve done many smaller projects, videos and animations that you can see on my website and I also work as a freelance programmer doing websites and mobile apps. You can see the portfolio here.

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At the moment I’m also starting with my colleague Lucía Seguramente a bigger and long time project called Hightech Rupestre. Our goal is to bring new media art closer to the public by producing different low tech art projects, gadgets and other occurrences. We also use recycled or daily materials mixed with microcontrolers and other electronic items. We also offer different workshops for kids an new technologies.

Cup Coder, 2014 from Mónica Rikić on Vimeo.

Jump! from Mónica Rikić on Vimeo.