what question to ask ?

taking part in “from scratch”  at derby theatre gives me an opportunity to ask a question of the audience. i’m showing liminal tic tac toe and i’m not sure what question to ask.

showing the work to a friend i might ask nothing as i’m interested to hear their words about their experience.

the most common question i get about these interactive works is “how does it work?” i’m never sure how to answer that one, partly  because when showing i see it much more about being in the moment than about the process that got me to that point.

i’m keen the work is seen for what it is and by this i mean contextually how it affects the viewer.

if it’s only seen for what it is then am i proposing the audience views a painting as canvas, wood and paint.

by adopting the “what it is” stance i am in effect challenging the viewer to go beyond the question of “how does this work” and try to get to “how does this connect with me?”

so in beginning to analyse what question to ask, i see lots of questions immediatley bubbling to the surface.




green abstractions asking what am i



however i am still left with the question of what to ask?

do i need to ask a question? the scratch night will take place in the studio of the theatre. i’m aware that my piece doesn’t have a script… at least not a formal one. the piece shows itself to the audience in a familiar form which will allow for a spontaneous narrative to be played out. upon this initial exchange having a favourable outcome we’ll progress into another level of spontaneous narrative. the narratives are visual and quite possibly verbal.

the narrative might be considered a metaphor for the beginning of a liason between two interested individuals. from the tentative beginning where does the relationship potentially progress to?

see i’m asking more questions, but which single question to ask ?

this work began as a vague conversation in june 2013 at the drop inn in belper. a space was available at the free fall festival in september 2013 and this is where the work was first shown.

the from scratch night provides another site specific version of the work inviting members of the audience to get involved by downloading an app from the itunes app store and joining in with the evolving narrative of the work.  having played with it, i think the question that i need to ask is, “if you can ask just one question about the work, what question would that be?”  is that rather lame for a question?  more information can be found on the homepage

liminal tic tac toe : on site with the work

preparations are going well on site for the work.  the space is evolving and the technical elements are coming together nicely.  liminal tic tac toe is almost ready for you to experience.
blue and orange digital sprits on a black background

i’ve been talking about the work this week with very interested parties and i’ve been very aware of how many times i’ve found myself saying “it’s a bit of an experiment, as i don’t really know what will happen.”


a detail of the digital screen output of the installation

if you’re planning on popping down and playing with the work yourself, there are four things that i need you to do to be able to connect with the work and interact with it.

  1. download the mrmr app.  it’s available free of charge from the apple app store. the tiny url link to the download page is  http://tinyurl.com/5zftax .                                                                                        if you are on ios 3 or 4 there is a legacy version of the app for your operating system http://tinyurl.com/qfhb8vc (the legacy version is built to be compatible with devices that are unable to upgrade to the latest versions of iOS)
  2. with the app installed and on site with the work, i need you to connect to the liminal server.  goto your settings > wifi > choose network and choose ” liminal server ” .  once connected go back to the settings page and back to the homepage.
  3. open the mrmr app.  once loaded there will be on screen instructions on how to connect with the server. once connected, the app will receive a set of buttons and sliders that connect with the content on the projection screen.
  4. play. push buttons , enjoy …

purple and green circles with a cut on a black ground

so when i reflect about the ” i don’t know what will happen”, i see it’s about point 5 and onwards and this is tremendously excitementing. there’s so much potential and i am so looking forward myself to the experience of the work live on site.

preparing a dvd

i’m preparing a dvd for the installation in response to the overall running time of the event.  i’d like the installation to be live from 1pm so it’s available to play with throughout the afternoon. the event continues until 2am.

being honest with myself about the intentions of the work i think that the latest the live installation will run to is 7pm.  this leaves some hours in the installation room for me to play with the screen in an evening fashion.

hence a dvd.

maybe after this first outing i can investigate recording the live session and making a dvd on site. for freefall the  dvd is being made from some of the research playings as i prepare for the installation.

it’s a while since i prepared a dvd and having not done any for a long time two have come along in a couple of months (as with buses). the first was four little films for the pop up exhibition at artsmith live in august and a little over a month later comes this one.

for it i’m returning to research i did for the future focus exhibition at quad.  interstice had a dvd component. i’m interested in possible futures so using the inbuilt scripting facility of dvd discs, i developed a method of playing the component tracks of the dvd in a non linear fashion. again for the evening form of liminal tic tac toe i’ll be using a development of that initial script to run the dvd.

i’ve enjoyed preparing the dvd.

to be able to prepare it i’ve  played with the interactivity component of the installation and been able to address some small operational details.  i’m looking forward to saturday and all the  possible futures within liminal tic tac toe.

liminal tic tac toe

screen details from the recent ongoing development of liminal tic tac toe.

a colour screen grab from liminal tic tac toe

a screen grab from interactive work

detail of screen of interactive work

ios app interactive screen detail

the programming of the patch for the ios app is progressing well.  in the live installation room, connecting to the liminal server and opening the app will prompt the server to push the patch to the app.

in english:

at the festival there will be a wi fi network called “liminal server” if you’d like to interact with the work connect to this network. once connected open the mrmr osc controller app and follow the on screen instructions. once connected to the server, the app will receive a set of buttons and sliders. you’ll now be able to interact with the work.

to get the app, goto the download page of the mrmr osc controller app. it’s a free app !

live homepage

the new home page of the website is now live. on it is a bit more about the work and a few grabbed images from the research stages.

today i’ve been working more on the inner workings of the patch that runs the installation. i think i’ve got to a point of being very close and feeling i want to be excited by what the installation can potentially do.  there’s been playing and hacking of the code. i hope for a good nights sleep and renewed energy tomorrow.


title of the work

i’m looking forward to the 21st at the drop inn. it’s another day where i’ll be doing something new and working with people whom some of which i’ll have not worked with before. i’m  preparing a new homepage for my website to give information and insite about the work.

the work is a slightly new route for me.  it’s being shown at a festival so the work needs to be entertaning, well i think so. something that can be an enjoyable thing to play with during the afternoon.  the festival is inside out, so no matter what the weather, the installation will be in the dry and very close to the bar.

i’ve got a working title ….. drum roll …….

and that title is

liminal tic tac toe

i wanted the title to be obvious and a little ambiguous at the same time.

the title reflects where the installation will begin for those playing with it.  while researching what i could create, i realised that my work was going down a route of me realising a long term dream of creating something in the medium of video that captured the immediacy of operating a water cooled laser system at raves and dance events.  the combination of the purity of the light source and the speed with which the shapes and patterns could change in real time put the laser system in a class of it’s own with regard to real time creative interpretation of what the musical sound track was doing in the space.

once i saw that i was creating something for myself to play with i started to consider how the audience might interact with what i was making.

so i returned to an old piece of programming research.  i had played with making a screen output that was like a game of tic tac toe, with the mouse position being tracked to select the active area.  i saw the possibility of using an app i’d discovered to be the human interface with the screen content.

now with a familiar and understandable beginning i’ve worked on having several stages post completed line that the players can influence what we see on screen.  during the event there will be live music in earshot of the installation, so as well as a gaming angle there is also a vj angle to the work. i imagine the installation being used to interpret the current soundtrack of the festival.

to make the programming able to cope with the unknown of who will turn up and play, the system is set up so that all the apps all output on the same address. what this means in the real world is that i don’t know what it’s going to be like on the day as to some extent there will need to be some verbal communication between players as to where in the app controls they are at any one time. i image that if all the players can agree on which page they are playing on, there will be some really dynamic visual responses…

i’m still developing the programming and all the accompanying information.  there’s two weeks before the event and depending on the time of day, i either feel amazing and upbeat and excited or just a little apprensive about will the work be enjoyed and easy to play with and will any one want to play with it. just all the usual doubt driven stuff at those tired times of the day.

the app is called the mrmr osc controller and it’s available for free from the itunes app store. the url address of the app : http://tinyurl.com/5zftax


qr code to the same url:



a qr code to the mrmr app page


a new work in september 2013


a work in response to an invitation from node 56 to be part of their september 2013 fund raiser.

an image of many coloured vertical lines

on offer to me is a space within the drop inn in derwent street, belper. what do i do?


well firstly i say yes to the invitation.  definitely a case of say yes and then have a think about what to do.  it wasn’t as vague as this might appear though.  at the time of the invitation i had been playing with an app i’d located that put forward the proposition of audience interaction with the visual content of a projection screen.




i’ve long hankered after making something that had a predominantly visual output and the space in the drop inn is all about watching the screen.


… i’ve set out to make something that can be interacted with by an iphone, ipod touch and quite probably an ipad too.


a black frame with several small coloured circles



what i really like about the app that i’ve found is that it’s possible to serve the devices in the space with the controls.  there is a small amount of initial setting up to do and i’m still experimenting with what we’ll need to do.


and here’s the excitement factor … for this work is an experiment.


what do we see when the visuals on screen are controlled by the audience ?



to decide what

is an exhibition about looking, experiencing, talking.


all the works are intentionally ambiguous, made from a starting point or response to something. it’s about the viewer taking time for themselves to experience and decide …. … …. …. however …  … … … … … … to decide what ?


for me it’s a return to a formal art space after a 3 year absence. it’s a beginning of an investigation into evolving an engaged practice.*

the exbibition takes the form of a pop up as there are some works that i need to be with to set up and ensure their functionality, they are in effect performances.

at the celebration event artsmith live will have a bar from which you can purchase drinks.  the sale of the drinks help to financially upkeep the gallery space.


with one’s drink there will be eight works to experience made in several mediums.


in no particular order the works are:

aesthetic of evolution. this film has been previously shown in the r/evolution season at quad in 2009. it features a puddle being emptied by a teaspoon. weblink

subtitled.  the inspiration for this was emerging from a pub in the small hours of the morning and listening to the dawn chorus. the first person i asked a question of was a deaf man. this is the film’s premiere event.

thankyou. a study of doors in a public sphere. this has previously been shown at a citi-zen event in derby.

waiting a study of cars turning right. this is the film’s premiere event.



the audience is invited to write downa dn place into the box notions that they reject


the box of rejection: a rectangular sculpture made from takeaway menus and received  junk mail . the proposition for the viewer is to use the accompanying pen and paper to write about something they reject and post it into the box of rejection. what is written is only known by the writer and the box. this work has been previously shown at a community event at the voice box in 2007.

middle eight a working title for an installation loosely based on a game of squash. it’s an abstraction of a work based on a game of badminton.  members of the audience are invited to interact with two pendulums and experience the resultant visual and sonic responses.  this work is: in development, site specific and is the first publicly shown follow up work to the snee snaw made in 2011.






22 colour photograms make up this work


in need of a title. a stick person made from 22 colour photograms made in 2007.

this is the first time this work has been publicly displayed.







the film is a study of a flag and it's environment


tween is produced by using the technique that makes a database narrative film.  the proposition for the audience is that they are part of the authoring process of the film by deciding what the next scene is.

i’m showing my first experiment made with this form, in which i study a flag and it’s surrounding environment.

the title is slightly tongue in cheek as it’s related to a francis ford coppola project where they experimented with the database narrative form for film festival audiences. coppola’s project was called twixt

this work has been previously shown at a corridor arts’ peer to peer meeting in 2012.



the celebration event takes place at the artsmith live gallery on monk street, derby on saturday august 10th from 6pm till 8pm. the gallery closes at 10 pm and re-opens on sunday august 11th at 11am. the pop up exhibition concludes at 4pm.



the invitation to the pop up exhibition





* engaged practices consider omnipresent yet unspecified questions.


on the walk home after seeing my first comfortism performance i did think to myself about wanting to work with ashley.  his writing in “do the right thing but not right now” intriged me enough to feel interested in getting more involved.

the opportunity came along to work with him to produce a teaser video about the production and it’s gone on from there really.

the show entwines a happening in 1979 with science, characters and a comedian set on telling the world that life is better than death.

having succesfully staged “i’ve been elvita adams” both in new york and derby we began to work towards realising something ashley had thought about for some time, a production based on the life,time and works of sam shepard.







working with ashley gives me a space in which i can be a producer/director/lighting designer/sound designer/performer/designer of bespoke audience facing show control.


i’m drawing on my training at lamda, subsequent production experience and degree in fine art within this collaborative practice based in the craft of theatre.



latest tweet from comfortism:

[twitter-feed username=”comfortism” mode=”feed” num=”2″ followlink=”yes”]