A tension between my father and Mr Badger

Go back 55 years. Eccleston square. The room filled with nine-year-old boys, 6 of whose fathers were in the cabinet not far – possibly in committee rooms or the house of commons.

At the front on a table is a pristine pile of squared paper, cut accurately and sitting immaculately in a cube, about a foot tall. The tea lady, Mrs Grice walks in with trembling hand – a green cup and saucer – 2 biscuits. Badger thanks Mrs Grice.

“CENTRIFUGAL FORCE!” he shouts – swinging the teacup and saucer, inches from our faces in a balletic flourish. Mrs Grice had left the room. This is mathematics. Now, ushering another boy up from the rows of desks in the classroom (Petty A) – putting his finger on the pile of neat squared paper, he is told to make a little circle with his finger. The paper starts moving at the top, transferring some of the force to the paper below. The cube gradually transforms itself into a twisted spiral. We sit sin silence, fully engaged. “The Commonwealth Institute roof is similar… “Mr Badger explains, no, not far from our house in Kensington. I remember the roof spans all, straight, making up the beautifully curved lines of the roof. Now stand here, at the front. Halve the distance from you and the door. Move to that point. Halve it again. Move. You will never reach the door.

Badger had a nickname for me.


I would drift off and look at the leaves being burnt outside in the square – the smell of the 1963 Autumn in SW1. “COMPUTER! What is 6 squared?” I would have to stand up and shout the answer. I never forget how he avoided the chalk and the endless soporific drone all my other maths teachers put me through. Mr Routh, Mrs Behets, and finally, when I ran out a few years later during a lesson in calculus as the windowpane acid really kicked in, Mrs Jacobson.

My father – a man of many contradictions – a major in royal corps of signals during the war, heading up a section of men his job in ciphers was to encrypt messages in the 8th army. After the war, he took over his uncle’s gallery in Leicester square (which he hated)… and told me of how he could determine if the number on the tube train carriage (usually a long number, I am not sure!) if it was a prime or not from when he boarded the train at Gloucester Road to  by the time it got to Hyde Park Corner. Hugh, a disappointed man, he often beat me and forbade me from motorcycles and art schools. He failed the motorcycles, for I then rode them for the next 46 years, the art seeped in and out over the years until now, when I have given it time doing an MFA.

One afternoon my father surprised me with a little demonstration of computational art without a computer. He took a a page from that Sunday’s paper, a photo of the Queen. He drew a grid in pencil over the photo, lining up the dots to measure it out accurately.

Then, taking a fresh sheet of paper out of the Queen Anne desk next to me, he took a compass and drew the edges of the same grid, the same carefully arranged dots, with the compass, transferring the straight grid lines of the photo into a series of curved lines. Each tiny square of the grid was transposed into the curve grid, as to distort the queen’s face.

I wish he had done more of that and beat me less.

The spirit of Mr Badger lives on as I rediscover the joys of mathematics without the boredom. My father – who also told me to go to the ICA and see a wonderful exhibition, Cybernetic serendipity at age 14.


Prototyping for Term2 project

Testing the mechanism and stepper driver with an EasyDriver. I have used a LN298N H bridge board but I found the latter method less bulky and convenient. I am going to introduce a second stepper to incorporate movement about the y axis to move my object.

The supported object is heavy so I have to test the Nema17 stepper to see if it is strong enough.

The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal

I liked watching this film. It discusses how, as humans, we feel compelled to create art – the film shows us graffiti removal teams in Portland Oregon unconconsciously creating art as part of their work to remove graffiti tags inn an industrial area of the city.

I admire the film’s clarity and how it informs us on a subject in a convincing way. it was part of a project undertaken as part of a degree course by Matt McCormick in 2001 and is narrated by Miranda July.

AtTiny85 With mini Joystick

ATiny is a great little chip, low power, cheap to set up and compact. No Serial.prinln is available however so all testing is done on an Arduino Classic.

I tried out a little joystick I bought as a ‘bundle’ of sensors etc from China.

Fairly simple, using a more limited array of pins to connect to; two pulse width modulated pins and the rest as disgital pins (or use the PWM pins if you want.)

I used two digital pins and two PWM pins (see Fritzing diagrams)

I made a programmer board to plug into the Arduino as this was easier to carry about and re-use. Credit to Brian  Lough on YouTube. Really Good Video.

Video and more pics to be uploaded  very soon!


Examining the low ‘minified’ ATtiny85 chip, this provides a cut down version of the Arduino; using much less current and only about £1 in cost.

I connected up the ATTiny to an Arduino to burn the bootloader – this allows other programs to be loaded up afterwards. I also made a harness – dedicated, soldered circuit to simplify future programmingof the ATTiny without wiring up a breadboard each time.

Once the bootloader is loaded, I upload the ‘Blink’ sketch to prove it works.

Here is the pcb I made to program the ATTiny, it plugs on top of the Arduino.

underneath! Filed down solder to make a good connection to Ardiuino…

And Attached 3 LEDs to blink

Schematic for programmer shield



Proposal for End of Term Project: Sand Plotter


Many designs of sand plotters are found on the Internet. When I first thought of doing this, I was unaware of how well trodden the path is, however I am not discouraged because it will be a good test of fabrication and still leave plenty of scope for designing patterns that can also be interactive to external environmental factors.

Movement or sound could modify the emerging pattern of the plotter, which may run continuously for extended periods. Thus, patterns can be drawn in a circular (it could be square also) enclosed chamber with a steel ball or cylinder.


Under the enclosed chamber is a revolving double rail, powered by a high torque stepper motor. The double rail will have a magnet mounted, pulled in the y axis by another stepper motor. The control board will be an Arduino mega with a Ramps shield board (or similar) comprising polulu stepper drivers.

So, with one circular motion and one lateral motion, circular patterns can be drawn in the sand.

Software to control the Ramps board will be developed and also some runtime scripts developed to demonstrate the sand plotter.


First stage will be to construct a frame without enclosure, mounting the mechanical parts. A very simple test script to move the turntable and lateral axis with be the first stage.

Second stage is to provide accurate control of the stepper motors

Third stage is to fabricate the sand enclosure and outer box (laser cut)

Fourth stage (possibly too much in the time alotted) – to build some interactivity with external sensors, thus modulating the sand pattern in real time.


I do not want to build anything too large, it becomes impractical, however it must be large enough to look impressive in a gallery setting. So, at least 50 cms diameter.


I am not the first…



Main Parts list:

Laser cut enclosure

Bearings for circular movement

2 x Nema high torque stepper motors

toothed belt, possibly 3d printed gears, metal belt pulleys,steel rods and linear bearings (I have most of these parts from building a 3d printer)

limit switches – these may not be mechanical but optical sensors

Ramps shield and Arduino Mega, polulu stepper drivers

Steel rods and 3d printed supports

Neodymium magnet

15-20 mm diameter steel ball

Privacy Concerns, Tracking, Surveillance of individuals, Public Privacy

As part of our planning for the next Assignment for Computational Arts-based Research, my theme will be Privacy Concerns, Tracking, Surveillance of individuals, Public Privacy.


What are the key questions or queries you will address?

How much are we being tracked by government agencies, companies?

How much is revealed already?

“In the wake of the Government’s proposed “Snoopers’ Charter”, ORG asks why intrusive new laws are being suggested, if they are needed at all and what the alternatives are. Some of the UK’s most prominent surveillance experts examine the history of UK surveillance law and the challenges posed by the explosion of digital datasets. Contributors include journalist Duncan Campbell, legal expert Angela Patrick from Justice, Richard Clayton of Cambridge University Computer Labs and Peter Sommer, Visiting Professor at De Montfort University.”

Open Rights Group

Snowden Global surveillance disclosures

What Google has Hidden

Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World




Trevor Paglen

Why are you motivated to undertake this project?

This is a concern of mine, for example, even yesterday (14th February) 2018), Amber Rudd announced a new means of tracking citizens in their internet activity.

Google have increased the resolution of the street mapper software. Up until recently, a house might be only a vague blob, until now.

My home address is revealed on my ‘whois’ search on my website. I have to pay the hosting company extra to hide it.

Tracking through cookies – possible eavesdropping of metadata on personal emails, e.g. correspondence appearing on Facebook.

Amber Rudd and her efforts to ‘fight’ terrorism may be circumvented:



https://www.asidatascience.com/ (recruiting now!)

What theoretical frameworks will you use in your work to guide you?

I will explore the contrast between the uninvited (yet legal) surveillance of my own ‘back yard’ vis a vis my un-noticed intrusion to neighbouring houses Wi-Fi (illegal).

If there is a problem undertaking this option, I will be investigating ‘hidden/secret’ sites in UK and abroad to see how much can be gathered using web tools such as Google maps.

I may only in the end enact the possibility of the latter to avoid problems with the law – however, I will use publicly available data online to show how international companies like Google intrude on our private lives. I will use Actor-Network theory to take us through the players in this scene, illustrating with real life examples.

What theoretical frameworks will you use in the analysis of your project?

I will investigate how much can be found out about me in the public domain online.

I will explore tools for intrusion, legal and illegal. (Kali Linux tools, Aircrack-ng, Reaver, Pixiewps, Wireshark.)

Using Actor network theory to determine who is the victim and who is the perpetrator, are they both?

How will you document your project?

Video capture, demonstration of software intrusion tools using Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi.

How close can I get with Google streetview of private and secret establishments, recording this using Camtasia.

Logging into password protected Wi-Fi in public spaces using open source Linux distro Kali Linux (covertly) via hidden battery powered headless Pi Zero. (possibly will not be available as there may be legal issues here.)

Possible logging of public data traffic and using Wireshark for forensic study.

Timeline for project milestones

Week 1, 2. Further research

Week 3. Artefact 1; covert monitoring of data

Week 4. Google Street view compilation

Budget (if any)

Raspberry Pi 3, Pi Zero (already have these)


“Face Value” Transmediale 2018


My last visit to Berlin was in 1990 in early March, a few months after the fall of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie was still in operation while I was there, East Berlin still wearing the ragged clothing of tears of Soviet rule; the flower stall, a bucket of daffodils, the greengrocer shop => a pile of huge unwashed potatoes with can of Coca-Cola placed on top.

Families wander through the park, some leaning up against hot dog stand – the whole family sharing one hot dog. Trabants broken all along the barbed wire fenced motorway leading out of Berlin to West Germany, rows of repaired identical alarm clocks with identical cardboard labels waiting for customers to collect them in the department store. Capitalism manifests again in grimy car parks with Polish families on blankets, selling their children’s toys for bread as vile West Germans swoop in to buy up the bric-a-brac from the comfort of their Mercedes and Bmws.

Today, Capitalism oozes out of every crevice, from the ‘hipster’ Kreutzberg to the immense tower blocks capturing space all over the city. It was a shock to me, to see the transformation of a city – and yet, the energy and power of the city and its people helped me forget my memories of the 80’s and threw me into a future… But why does no-one speak German?

I recall why I am in the city, I continue my innocent ventures into Computational Art spend almost all of my four days attending Transmediale 2018 – I decided from the outset that I would attend as many talks as I could endure, allowing for mental/physical fatigue. My college classmates roll in at 06:30 just as I get dressed and showered…

No, I did not ‘enjoy’ all the talks, however, overall the sessions were all extremely stimulating but I had my likes and dislikes.

First, the dislikes.

The panel discussion Nefarious Values: On Artistic Critique and ComplicityMarc Garrett, Eric Kluitenberg, Sven Lütticken, Ana Teixeira Pinto, belit sağ, Lioudmila Voropai,Moderated by Marc Garrett

Eric K was absent. Sven Lütticken gave a measured, slightly vague presentation, discussing the rising inequality and failure of capitalism. Lioudmilla Voropai was really hard to follow, her English was not flowing and presentation poor. Her main points were concerned solely on the aspect of critique; how the artist will develop his/her practice. She seemed to ramble and was not able to communicate and made any points with clarity. Ana Teixeira Pinto was not much better, more concerned with rattling off a very dense text she read out and proudly proclaimed she finished in 2 minutes 30 seconds in the allotted 5-minute time slot. The third panellist (NOT LISTED) over-ran but showed a 2-minute video concerned with the plight of Kurds and war criminals in Turkey/ censorship. She was earnest and genuine I felt but the moderator seemed to take a dislike to her and challenged her, demanding she gave some ‘answers/solutions’ to the problem. I left feeling quite annoyed at the pompous Ludmilla, the vague co-presenters and felt it a wasted hour.

‘Fuck Off Google’ was another disappointment to me, if only because it reminded me of the unfocused anarchist meetings I attended during the ‘occupy’ period over 2011. The general posits; to demonstrate against the start up space and Google’s plan to move into the (already gentrified) Kreuzberg, a distinctly bohemian/creative area of east Berlin, to  what the presenters claimed was becoming rapidly becoming gentrified. The two presenters were convincing enough but I felt I could have spent less time at the session, even though I arrived a few minutes late. It made me conclude; how far can we divorce ourselves from the racial capitalism that continues to dominate our world without completely descending into nihilism? We have a tension between the world as we have it and an idealised world we would like to have. It is important to speak up and point out imperfections, one of which is how ‘greenwashing’ – crumbs of money off the table to appear green and ‘right on/trendy/cool’  by corporates such as Google, how Google has gentrified cities like San Francisco – now Berlin is in the sights of Google. I felt the motivation of the talk was valid but the free form questioning exposed how little the speakers had to say and went on too long.

However, I really liked all the other presentations of the day, particularly the keynote speech by Jonathan Beller; Derivative Living: “Platform Communism: A Program for Derivative Living Against Regimes of Informatic Subsumption”. It is worth following up with the video of his talk:


Beller described eloquently and in a well-structured way, Toxic Media, Toxic Finance, Toxic Information and New Economic Spaces/ECSA.

His conclusion; blockchain offers technologies to frame a means of enabling small communities to bypass the toxic capitalist system, offering a small window of opportunity for those imagining a new beginning. He did not claim to describe how this all may play out as he stated the tech was still in its infancy. The questions raised at the end were excellent also, challenging him but he maintained composure and responded credibly.

Another favourite of mine, a keynote speech by Professor Lisa Nakaruma ‘Call Out, Protest, Speak Back’, I found to be the most memorable and thought-provoking. Nishant Shah gave an excellent presentation and introduced Professor Nakaruma as being inspirational to him.

Her talk revealed my own ignorance, but that was OK, because I benefited – I followed up on her talk – reading up on bell hooks, Audre Lord et al. Prof. N. points out examples of misogyny and racism ‘strengthened and consumed’ in gaming platforms, also presentations VR technology products – particularly via ‘new media’ . She offers an example; a black woman being seen using a VR product is not only shallow but also reveals the efforts by tech companies to counter balance expectations to show their true white middle-class customer base. A stroppy member of the audience pipes up 1 hour 16 minutes in the Q and A, demanding an explanation from Nakaruma, claiming she ‘knew’ VR and how it works… the audience howled in horror! Prof. N calmly agrees, she does not know how to make VR but asks us to see how these products are being sold. Well worth listening to.

Perhaps I attended too many talks, overloading my brain – however – in no particular order of merit, all good: ‘Soundtrack for Webcams – Live’,

‘Hard Feelings: A Conversation on Computation and Affect’ (with my lecturer Helen Pritchard), ‘The Space In-Between: The Value  of Interpretation and Interaction for the  Next Generation Internet’, ‘Politics of Forgetfulness’,‘Calculating Life’ (With Heather Dewey-Hagborg, excellent!), ‘Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain ‘, ‘Reimagine the Internet: Affect, Velocity, Excess’, ‘The Weaponization of Language’ and ‘Growing a Repertoire: The Preservation of Net Art as Resistance to Digital Industrialism.’


Full programme available with recorded presentations