Media Sandbox 2011
Media Sandbox is a development scheme based in Bristol that aims to provide creative groups with grants to explore the possibilities of ‘blue sky’ technologies, that is, technologies with the aim of pushing creativity and design forward, above and beyond our present levels of expectation. The scheme, set up by iShed with the support of Bristol City Council, provides numerous £10,000 grants to designers in order to allow them to creatively explore their ideas without financial limitations and profitability restrictions. The most interesting thing about this scheme is that it actually exists, in a time of government cuts to arts funding it is one of only a very small handful of financial supports for the creative industries.
Mint Magazine was lucky enough to head down to Bristol to experiment with these groundbreaking technologies in person and here are three of our favourites from the day.
AlphaSphere by nu desine:
For me, this is the most exciting element to the whole show, a dynamic and physically playable instrument that meets up somewhere between a giant spherical drum pad and a sequencer. Adam Place came up with the idea whilst studying at the University Arts of Japan and was able to build a functioning prototype of his idea with funding from Media Sandbox. The opportunity also allowed him to bring in Richard deLancey as design engineer expert, and Kaspar Bumke, an electronics engineer at Bristol Hackspace, so that he could realise the physical and software limitations he was experiencing on his own.
Adam can probably describe the function far better than I can; “the AlphaSphere is a musical instrument for today, bringing the musician away from the computer screen and back to the instrument, but still allowing for the diversity of sounds which can be produced by modern music production techniques. It makes the electric guitar look like a tin whistle.” I mean, look at the pictures of this thing, it is revolutionary and at the very least if it gets DJ’s out from behind those glowing little apple logos every person who has ever been to a club will know that it’s a step forward.
Biofeedback in Gaming by Remode:
I haven’t been much of a gamer since the Nintendo/Sega wars af the 90′s, once dual-shock got involved I was out of there, I just didn’t have the balanced brain mechanisms needed for making movements with two joysticks. Then Wii came along and I was still relatively unimpressed; I was taught to suppress those body movements you want to make whilst playing video games. So, all in all, I’m not the best person to be writing anything about gaming, however innovations in gaming have always interested me, even if I can’t get involved.
This is where Remode comes in, adding a sort of added value to the current generation of gesture control games in the form of Biofeedback. Yes sir, space age shit. The idea is that as your heart rate increases you are able to unlock superpowers or character transformations. At least it will placate the fun police who say that kids should be outside getting exercise when said kids are running amok around the house to get their heart rate up so that Sonic will run faster.
Find out more at: www.mediasandbox.co.uk/remode |http://twitter.com/remodestudios
Sculpting with Scent by Moksha:
This was truly fascinating. Moksha use differing smells to trigger the relevant emotions that correspond to a narrative voice. In this case, it was a scene from Lost In Translation and the varying smells actually do imply the corresponding emotions to what you are hearing around you. Its creator tells us, “the scent sculpture is an attempt to create a new design language with smell, taking advantage of our most powerful yet most neglected sense. Our aim is to create experiences of incredible emotional intensity by directly accessing areas of the brain that other stimulus can’t reach.”
It was fascinating to learn how these synthetic smells are sourced, there is literally a descriptive smell catalogue and then you pick and choose which ones you want, there are smells subtle enough to induce vomiting and others that will induce fear.
It is likely that you will begin to see a lot more of these groundbreaking technologies in the near future as their uses become more widespread. I would suggest you keep an extra vigilant eye on the alphasphere and its creator as it will likely be making some high profile appearences, although with whom and where is a closely guarded secret…
Words by Marcus Harris
Picture/video by Ed Schofield