Week 0

15 October 2012

I have totally failed to finish updating my vanity domain to be more than just a holding page, so my weeknotes for freelance work will have to start here, for the time being. And as for indexing them from zero – well, why not. And as for doing them at the beginning of Week 1 rather than the end of Week 0: well, I was out, and Late Weeknotes seem to be the trend.

A gentle week to kick off with, mainly focused on some business development (ie: having lunch or coffee with people), administration (setting up accounting software, picking project codename schemes, and beginning to maintain a pipeline) and working on the project I’m doing for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

That’s developing really nicely. I’ve still not written much about it at length because it’s evolving a little as I work on it. Still, rather than being cryptic, now’s a good as time as any to start talking about it.

The project is called Spirits Melted Into Air, and it’s a piece of work about logging actors’ positions on stage during performance and turning that data into secondary artworks. It arose from the idea that many people’s many interactions with Shakespeare are with the text, when, in fact, the RSC’s work is about performance: performance which is shaped not by a text (given how few stage direction we have in the printed versions of Shakespeare) but by an actor, a director, a motion coach, perhaps a fight choreographer, and (crucially) the audience on a given night.

I’m producing this data through a piece of software I’ve written – in Processing – which allows me to trace motion (by hand) from video. It’s a little crude, but is producing valuable results. Then, I’m writing more software to output that into useful formats, and turning that into art.

I am developing it in the open, albeit somewhat cryptically, over at Github, where you can find several Processing experiments and some diary notes. But really, it probably won’t make much sense until I write it up properly.

The big leaps forward this week were acquiring some source material from Stratford, whittling it down to size with some ffmpeg voodoo, and making my simple 2D demo work in skewed 3D space. Oh, and beginning the graphic design of the output.

Lined up for next week (it’s this week really): two days design work, sketching and exploring an interaction space with the Good Night Lamp team, two days thinking about the RSC, a little business development, and Playful on Friday.

Good week 0, really.

At the beginning of October, I’ll be leaving Hide&Seek.

I’ve had a great time working here – on everything from phone-powered poetry games to web-based catechisms on death; consultancy and prototyping for major corporations and media companies, to a huge gallery installation of interlinked games built out of hardware, software, the network, and good-old physical manufacture. And throughout, working alongside some hugely talented and lovely colleagues (all of whom I will miss dreadfully). The company’s in great shape – with an NY studio recently established, and Mark coming on board – and I’m really excited to see what will emerge from them in the coming years. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had here.

What’s next, then?

What’s next is: working for myself. I’ll still probably continue to work on games – I can’t really ever stop writing about them or playing them, for starters and I’ve got one of my own I’d like to spend some time exploring – but I’m returning a bit closer to my technology-and-design roots, whilst bringing my experience of the playful interactive space to bear on that.

What will that work look like? Well: thinking through making; continuing my efforts to work with technology as a material; sitting at the intersection of design and technology. Some space to work with a whole host of interesting people, across a host of sectors – which includes you, if you’re reading – and also to develop my own practice and understanding. A bit more writing. For now, it’s best explained as “I am available for freelance work, doing the thing I do“, and I hope over time I’ll refine the proposition and explanation. (I will find somewhere to blog weeknotes, too.)

On the immediate horizon, I have an upcoming piece of work in October, through Caper, with the Royal Shakespeare Company: a small technological intervention with a theatre company to make interesting and beautiful things. It’s a lovely project, writing software to make art, and letting me tap into my liberal arts roots. There’s some early code and documentation on Github (from some spare evenings) and I’ll write more about the project in due course here when I’m working ont it in earnest.

Otherwise, though: I’m available for hire from mid-October. I am not interested in a fulltime position; I’m probably not your CTO or technical cofounder. I like short projects with defined goals; exploration, iteration and prototyping; straddling design and technology. I work on the full stack of the web as well as increasingly doing more things you might call “physical computing”. Of course, if you read this site, you have a good idea of what I do or am interested in. And I’ll hopefully have more work to show to explain what it is I do in the near future.

If you have interesting problems, or are curious as to what I could do for you, do drop me a line. It is time to live in Interesting Times.