This Weekend: Computational Rube Goldberg Transcoder

I’ll be running a workshop with Francesco this Saturday (25 Jan) 1-3pm in the Work in Progress show

Part workshop and part performance this is an exercise in creating (and disrupting) a sensor ⁄ signal loop.

Drawing from the idea of feedback loop and Rube Goldberg machine, we will be transcoding data from one platform to another, in a journey from digital signal to physical output and vice versa. There is no beginning or end but rather different platforms through which data can be input in the form of sound, colour, materials, lights, physical movements and so forth…

Anybody can and should intervene at any point to disrupt the transcoding of the signal and foster new serendipitous outcomes. Feel free to bring images, photos, instruments or just yourself.

Mapping Symposium

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 14.55.50(The image above is a pixellated shot of part of the Arctic I found randomly jumping between locations in a simple app made with Unfolding).

Today was the IED Mini Mapping Symposium, with talks form Chris Grundy (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Till Nagel (Artist/Researcher) and then an afternoon’s workshop from Till on his mapping library for Processing, Unfolding (using a new prerelease version found here:

Chris discussed the use of mapping in Public Health, their use for tracking things such as disease outbreaks and also analysing access to services, food, etc. He also discussed how mapping and Geographical Information Systems are changing as a result of new technologies, for example he was able to estimate the population of a town to within 2% of its actual value by viewing and counting the buildings from Google Earth and using average occupation data.


Both speakers used the endlessly famous John Snow Cholera map, and Chris pointed out that, from a modern public health point of view, the map would be illegal. It identifies people too much to be considered ethical.

This chimes with a project shown by Till, LiquiData, which used the data that iOS devices had been storing without their user’s consent and gives it back to the user. The application allows the user to take control of the data and explore it in a way that could be useful or interesting to them.

Overall, the merging of maps and live data was shown to be a useful process, allowing new patterns and correlations to be found. It seems that it could be interesting as a tool, perhaps to find locations and areas of interest, or to explore spaces and cities in a systematic or non-linear way.