Robert Hocking has an impressive media background. He graduated from Plymouth University with a first class honours in 2000 and started Motiongrafik Ltd, a digital media company based in Plymouth and Cornwall. Through Motiongrafik Robert was involved in a variety of projects including the digital archiving of historic sites and artefacts, the production of interactive panoramic images, the Looe Maritime Archive, Virtual Eden for the original Eden Project website and Mediterranean Voices an EU funded program teaching university anthropologists at a number of European universities how to use specific digital media collection equipment for a ground breaking online multimedia database driven website.
Then in 2004 he got fed up with corporate normality and the Artytechs Parlour was born.
Artytechs desire however was to be one of the driving forces in the development and spread of digital art as an entertainment medium using projections, soundscapes and audience interaction to create a new art form for the 21st century.
Artytechs parlour at the Port Eliot Festivals 2003 – 2006.
July 2004 – The Black Queen makes her way west.
“Count Rodo was used to these kind of happenings and indeed we had experienced many similar events together, we were on our way down to Cornwall and the Earl of St Germans estate. I had in my possession a 1000 piece jigsaw by Blacksmoke – it would require assembling in the main house on the estate. Once assembled – Cast in funeral black – our monarch was reversed in a large mock-postage stamp relief wearing a gas mask – behind her lay text covering every delineation of black in a long dark mantra – the figure 4th was writ large – in some odd echo of the fourth Reich. There was a dispute as to the legality of the image and the Royal Mail had successfully forced a London gallery to remove a similar image from its walls only that week. The construction of the piece would involve the general public and fellow artists and writers attending that years Port Eliot Literary Festival. It would take place in the oldest inhabited house in Britain. Many strange and wonderful things occurred during our three days there”.
The Artytechs Parlour went off with a mixture of electronic noise, a tin whistle and live percussion at Port Eliot Lit Fest in Cornwall. In a darkened room, such a contrast to the blazing sunshine outside, an eclectic group of cutting-edge digital artists and musicians created a three day technology experience. Huge screens juxtaposed with giant 18th century oil paintings; digital butterflies fluttered over lush fresh turf; drummers jammed live with computers and a giant, 1000 piece, black and white jigsaw was completed in near total darkness during a weekend of what some thought as “rather strange” in the Artytechs Parlour.
NIME323 and HMC, recent graduates from Plymouth University’s Media Lab Arts course, treated those who stumbled into the darkness with a stunning display of interactive digital technology. HMC’s Fun Flowers were undoubtedly the favourite amongst the children, and many adults, visiting the Parlour. Sixteen 3D butterflies fly around the edge of a projected area, players can step inside the area and hold their hand still above a flower. If they are still, a butterfly will land on their hand. Young and old were fascinated. NIME323 filled the room with strange noises created by a generative soundscape with multi channel diffusion responsive to user presence and physical interaction. Members of the group, wired up to computers moved around playing virtual instruments projected onto two screens at opposite ends of the room.
Blacksmoke presented two pieces from their ‘Physical Literature’ series, ‘Blacksmoke – Black Text’, a metre squared black and white “stamp” jigsaw depicting an image of the Queen, wearing a gas mask surrounded by black text on a black background, was, amazingly, completed by visitors to the festival and shown in conjunction with Blacksmoke’s short film, ‘We Two Form a multitude’.
It livened up in the evening with a live digital and percussion jam accompanied by a tin whistle and singer. Far from “rather strange”, the crowed loved it and The Parlour turned into a dance floor as word got out that “It’s going off in the house!”
Glorious Ninth’s ambient installation ‘Tending Triptych’ ran throughout the weekend, the appearance of process, change and transition intertwines with the sound of connections, relationships and interactions, into which viewers weave their own positions. The Parlour was also host to a performance by Blind Ditch, using live cameras, generative software and projections, the performers are caught in a feedback loop of sound and light, struggling to make sense of their world as spinning words are etched on trembling skin.
This superb combination of old and new, light and dark, virtual and real, technology and art formed a unique creative happening in a stunning location hidden in the Cornish countryside.
Then things got weird.
The Artytechs Parlour Chthonic Tales 2005 –
“It was not a gallery, it was an experience”.
Martin Sexton and myself as curators sought the seamless integration of the digital artists with the more traditional. We both felt that this was achieved, and much more – Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud of us.
Here’s some feedback:
What a brilliant weekend, even if we did get soaked and covered in mud. Spent it down at the Port Eliot Lit Fest doing the Port Pods thing for i-DAT. On Saturday Jamie and I spent the afternoon there collecting sounds of the event from different locations and interviewing people. It rained non-stop and we must have written off a pair of trainers each coz of the mud. The Litfest itself is held in the grounds of Port Eliot and whatever I say won’t do it justice. Port Pods from i-DAT at the University of Plymouth formed part of the Artytechs Parlour events.