September 19, 2012
In the summer of 2012, MzTEK and Guerilla Science made sweet music together, creating wearable instruments with festival-goers at Wilderness and Shambala.
With conductive fabric and soft circuitry, punters turned their t-shirts into synthesizers, screechers and recorders, and were then treated to a personalized recording session with composer Florian Tanant.
For more on the making of this event, check out the how-to guides on the MzTEK website, watch this short film by Debbie Davies about the first workshop we held in June 2012, read about the experience of Shauna Concannon (a literary studies grad turned electrical engineer) here, and see more pics of the making of the orchestra at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (our home) here, at Wilderness here, and at Shambala here.
Many thanks to Kobakant for their advice and expertise, Shauna Concannon for her engineering prowess, Louise Carver with the Natures tent at Wilderness for hosting the event, and to the Centre for Creative Collaboration for bringing us all together in the first place.
This event was generously sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
September 4, 2012
Engineer Shauna Concannon helped us build a Hacked Human Orchestra this summer, in a collaboration with tech artist collective MzTEK and composer Florian Tanant. She tells us about her adventures adding to “the victorious kingdom of electricity”.
The tent is aired out and packed away, and while a few reluctant specks of glitter still cling to my face, the human hacked orchestra festival tour has come to an end.
As a relative newcomer to the field of electronics, it takes little effort to recall the basement, utterly lacking in natural light, where I had my first foray into circuit hacking; inexpertly, and with a dose of trepidation, I handled tiny components with numbers written so small that a squint became a necessary (and becoming) accompaniment to hunched shoulders and a furrowed brow.
While trying to learn the basics at an accelerated rate I was simultaneously wiring up voltage boxes with unnervingly high currents to hacked-around-with circuitry and an arduino in the perpetual fear I might blow something up. Oh, the hours spent alone late at night connecting wires, hoping for the best and troubleshooting to work out which component was the wrong way round or a dud; praise be to my only friend, the multimeter (that I was semi-confident I knew how to use).
So, how refreshing instead to be sat in an airy tent, with merry festival go-ers, threading needles, stripping wire and combining chit-chat with the crafting of wearable musical instruments.
Within the space of a few hours individuals with limited or no previous experience created functioning sound circuits and discovered how capacitors, transistors and resistors could transform into hubs of sound creation. Throw in some coloured felt and keen design skills and the hacked human orchestra is born.
Off they marched to the pop-up studio to fulfill the musical aspirations outlined by the futurists, to add “the victorious kingdom of Electricity” to the musical poem. Well, perhaps that is a little grandiose, but they certainly made some noises of note…
Compared to the dank workshop setting, this seems like a vastly preferable environment within which to get a taste for electronics. Alas, working in fields all year round is not an option. I now await the recordings – perhaps they can help to prolong the Shambala and Wilderness experience.
By Shauna Concannon
Read more about the Hacked Human Orchestra on MzTEK’s blog, check out this short film by Debbie Davies about our first workshop, see more pictures from Wilderness here and Shambala here, and check out the HHO at the Barbican in November!
August 29, 2012
We went on a quest for some strange wildlife in the wilds of Shambala: subatomic particles, the fundamental bits and pieces of the universe.
Three quarks – two up, one down – joined together in their strange, tri-coloured amorous union to form a proton.
An electron, darting this way and that with boundless energy, joined them to form a hydrogen atom.
Three more quarks joined us, creating a second proton, soon paired with their own electron. Our electrons, repelling and despising each other, spiraled round both our protons in a polyamorous union, forming a covalent bond (considered kinky to some).
We pushed the atoms together to form helium – releasing photons, and creating sunlight!
For the grand finale, we crashed them together in our particle accelerator -
revealing the star of the show, the Higgs boson!
Without daring to let it get away, we snagged it with a net and dragged it back into our tent.
Sponsored by the wonderful STFC, made in partnership with designer Patrick Stevenson-Keating and particle physicist Dr Ben Still.
Check the write up in The Guardian, with a short film edited by Thom Hoffman, after we held the event for the first time at the Secret Garden Party in July.
August 27, 2012
The marvelous Evy Jokhova came along to Shambala for a life drawing class with a twist. For a unique blend of art and science, we asked her to illustrate our model’s anatomy for the audience, painting her circulatory system, heart, lungs, spine and digestive system directly onto her naked skin.
The fabulous Dr Denise Gomez, MD, joined us to explain the physiology of love: how hormones like oxytocin can muddle the mind, what is responsible for that feeling of butterflies in the stomach and weakness in the knees, and how the sight of that special someone can leave us literally breathless.
See the full selection of pictures on our Flickr site.
Shambala marks the third time we have hosted this event – see more pics of our anatomically illustrated models from the Lost Lovers Ball at Battersea Power Station in February 2011 here and here, and at the Secret Garden Party in 2011 here.