A great deal of my work recently has been in the area of music hacks, playful research and creative innovation. It’s a fascinating space to work in, and it’s forming the basis of a book I’m just starting to work on.
Right now, I’m in Brussels at the closing meeting of a European consortium that has fostered a series of collaborations that that bring together people from the worlds of Art and ICT – and the projects that have come out of it are pretty incredible.
There are dancers working with data and projections; musicians creating apps that allow audiences to democratically control looping effects en masse; augmented reality games that use real world road signs as portals from which space invaders emerge; 3d printed visualisations of topographical data… but my favourite had to be the Toy Hack Workshop – a bit like in this video.
It’s a simple idea – there’s a pile of toys. You’re encouraged to grab a few that you’re drawn to. Then you’re given tools: hacksaw, glue gun, needle and thread – and encouraged to take the toys to bits and recombine them into new ones. A bit like the mutant toys in Toy Story. You can even do a little bit of simple electronics and make the eyes light up or have your hybrid monstrosity vibrate maniacally across the table.
It’s a lot of fun – but the best thing is that it reminds kids that they can MAKE stuff. Rather than simply consume, they can remix, rework, remake and create. They become hackers.