New fabrication spaces open at Goldsmiths Computing

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Goldsmiths Computing has gained four new spaces this week, with the opening of two fabrication workshops, a specialist teaching room and a staff office.

Situated inside St James Hatcham Building (popularly known as ‘the church’), these new spaces comprise:

  • G11: a specialist teaching room with suspended powerpoints and workbenches
  • G12: the ‘tidy’ workshop with a dozen 3D printers and an Epilog laser cutter
  • G13: the ‘messy’ workshop for wood-working, drilling, sewing and carving, with a ShopBot CNC mill.

These new spaces place Goldsmiths Computing in the forefront of creative computing, allowing students and staff to design and build physical objects that incorporate digital technology.

The as-yet-unnamed facility builds on the concept of the maker space, hacker space or fablab; this is a social space where students from across the department will meet, socialise and collaborate. It joins our suite of superb facilities that include a motion capture lab, digital studios, games lab and computing labs.

Goldsmiths hosts Global Game Jam 2017

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For the second year running, we’re inviting students from Goldsmiths and
beyond to participate in a marathon computer game creation event.

Global Game Jam is an international event, taking place in dozens of locations around the world. Over 48 caffeine-fueled hours, participants will develop, programme, test and present a whole bunch of new games.

Starts: 4.30pm Friday 20 Jan 2017
Ends: 7pm Sunday 22 Jan 2017
Venue: Launch event at RHB 300, then moving to Hatcham St James (the church), New Cross SE14 6AD. Map
Tickets: Free. Book online here

At the Goldsmiths event, students from first year to PhD will collaborate in teams, enrich their skills and build their professional portfolios to show off to potential employers. It’s not only for Computing students, but also those studying Design, Music, Creative Writing – or anything else. We welcome students from outside Goldsmiths, as well as members of the London games development community.

Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game jam. The weekend makes a global creative buzz in games development – be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression. GGJ encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity.

GGJ is not a competition: it’s known for helping foster new friendships, increase confidence and opportunities within the community. It is an intellectual challenge, where people are invited to explore new technology tools, try new roles and test their skills.

Everyone gathers on Friday late afternoon and watches a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers. The secret theme is announced (last year’s was “ritual”) and teams worldwide are then challenged to make games based on that theme, with games to be completed by Sunday afternoon.

Our participation in Global Game Jam marks Goldsmiths as a university that is central to the world of creative, innovative, international games development. The event is organised by Goldsmiths Computing and the student tech society Hacksmiths.

First prize for BrightSign smart glove at Seoul hackathon

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A Goldsmiths Computing student’s ‘sign language glove’ has taken first prize in an exclusive South Korean hackathon attended by hand-picked students from some of the world’s best universities.

PhD Arts & Computational Technologies candidate Hadeel Ayoub, third-year BSc Creative Computing student Leon Fedden, and 2016 MSci Creative Computing graduate Jakub Fiala took part in the IBM Watson A.I. Hackathon in Seoul earlier this month. Organised by the Art Centre Nabi, the hackathon focused on pioneering technology for use in social care.

Hadeel, an MA Computational Arts graduate who is now studying for her PhD, has spent the past year working on the second version of her BrightSign glove, which turns hand motions into text and speech. In addition to the new developments in the glove’s technology, she has also consulted with Rose Sinclair from Goldsmiths’ Department of Design on the best textiles to use for the product.

During the three day hackathon, the Goldsmiths team built, programmed and trained the BrightSign glove on site. On the final day they presented the project at a public event with a judging panel including the director of IBM Watson.

The BrightSign glove contains an on-board, battery-powered single board computer, flex sensors and an accelerometer. Used in combination with a range of gestural and semantic analysis tools, users can generate and control reliable speech through a dictionary of hand gestures.

The first version of the design made international headlines in 2015, with Hadeel explaining the glove’s potential to improve communication between people with different disabilities.

The Goldsmiths team, supervised by the Department of Computing’s Dr Rebecca Fiebrink and Dr Mick Grierson, were up against stiff competition from Seoul National University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and New York University, among others.

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Adapted from a Goldsmiths News article by Sarah Cox

EVENT: Film Sound Performance in Brunel Tunnel Shaft

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A festival of experimental sound, film and performance – co-curated by Goldsmiths and London College of Communication – takes place in Rotherhithe this December.

On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December, the dark and uncanny Brunel Tunnel Shaft space hosts a festival of experimental sound, film and performance, curated by Goldsmiths’ Embodied Audiovisual Interaction and LCC’s Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice groups.


Where: Brunel Museum, Railway Ave, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4LF
When: 7pm Saturday 10 December // 7pm Sunday 11 December
Tickets: Saturday £10 // Sunday £10 // Both nights £18


Saturday 10 December

Guy Sherwin >> ‘Sound Cuts’ – 4 projector performance
Sherwin’s film works often use serial forms and live elements, and engage with light, time and sound as fundamental to cinema. Sherwin was guest curator of ‘Film in Space’ an exhibition of expanded cinema at Camden Arts Centre. His films have screened at  Hayward Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

Alice Kemp >> live art performance
Kemp works with dream-image-language and subtle trance states to create live-art performances and audio compositions. Her practice involves composition, public and private rituals, doll-making, drawing and painting. Her performances have been described as hypnotic, intense, unnerving, beautiful, dark and reflective, aggressive, confusing, meditative, pointless, brave, sensual, baffling, delicate, and absurd.

Simon Katan >> ‘Conditional Love’ – participatory networked device performance
Katan is a digital artist with a background in music and a strong preoccupation with games and play. His work incorporates hidden mechanisms, emergent behaviour, paradox, self-reference, inconsistency, abstract humour, absurdity and wonder. He is a researcher and lecturer at Goldsmiths’ Embodied Audio Visual Interactions group.

Heather Ross >> Domestic Dawn Chorus
Ross is concerned with how human experience is mediated, by exploring the tensions between reality and representation. How do the technologies of reproduction and representation affect the way we understand the world through our senses? Dealing with themes of alienation, melancholy, remoteness, disembodiment and longing, her work conjoins realities and fictions, to convey ambiguous environments, spaces and forms.

Claire Undy & Bill Leslie >> Video work
Claire Undy is an artist and curator, working largely with performance, video and time-based media. She graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2016, and co-founded the curatorial project Skelf. Bill Leslie is a visual artist whose work draws on Modern abstract sculpture, 1950s B-movies, as well as Russian Constructivism and modern architecture. Concerned with the relationship of sculpture and the photographic image, his works develop through transformations of scale, context and media.


Sunday 11 December

Lee Patterson >> Amplified devices and processes
Working across various forms, including improvised music, field recording, film soundtrack and installation, Patterson attempts to understand his surroundings through different ways of listening. Characterised by revealing subliminal and barely audible sound materials within commonplace things, his unorthodox approach to generating sound has led to collaborations with a host of international artists and musicians.

Áine O’Dwyer >> DJ set with field recordings
With a background combining Irish traditional music and contemporary performance, Áine O’Dwyer creates multi-layered, experiential work that begs questions of historicism and the social proximities of the everyday, as well as the presumed nature of records themselves. For this DJ set, she will play her collection of field recordings, drawing on her knowledge of the acoustics of the Brunel Tunnel from her two year residency there.

Howlround >> Live tape manipulation on 3 reel-to-reel machines, tape loops stretching across the space…
Howlround create recordings and performances entirely from manipulating natural acoustic sounds on vintage reel-to-reel tape machines, with additional reverb or electronic effects strictly forbidden – a process that has seen their work compared to William Basinski, Philip Jeck, Morton Feldman and the sculptures of Rachel Whiteread.

Wajid Yaseen & Anthony Elliot >> Oscillators, Extended vocal performance, drawn circuits
Anthony & Wajid’s ‘Crossing Lines’ recently opened the Tempting Failure festival. An improvised vocal and sound-drawing performance, it involved Wajid Yaseen’s experiments in extended vocal techniques with Anthony Elliott’s sculpture-sound-printing rheostat to explore a balance between all-gate square wave generators that allow on-off vocal input. A contrast in frequency and sound texture generated by the two performers and two systems was suspended between the systematic and the unplanned.


Where: Brunel Museum, Railway Ave, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4LF
When: 7pm Saturday 10 December // 7pm Sunday 11 December
Tickets: Saturday £10 // Sunday £10 // Both nights £18

Goldsmiths Games student wins assistive music technology commission

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Andreas Lopez-Muro Alfaya Y Frias, a second-year BSc Games Programming student, has won a prestigious commission from Drake Music to create a new piece of music inspired by or using assistive music technology.

As part of Drake Music’s Connect & Collaborate London programme, Andreas was one of four people given the opportunity to shine a light on music technology  which is breaking down the barriers disabled artists face when making music.

Andreas, a guitar and piano player specialising in grime, metal and jazz, won the Emerge Commission for emerging musicians aged 16-30, in partnership with WAC Arts.

Andreas is looking forward to working on this commission and joyfully said: “When I found out I got the Emerge commission, it felt like Christmas came early for me this year.”

The commission will include support and mentoring by an experienced Drake Music Associate Musician to create a new piece of work. The style of music is open and a free choice, as long as it has been inspired by or is created using music technology.

All commissions are in partnership with a leading London arts organisation, each with a different focus and style to bring the work of talented disabled musicians to a wide audience. All four commissions will be presented at a showcase event in March 2017.


Goldsmiths Computing events in Nov-Dec 2016

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This November promises to be a month full of events – most of which are free (or cheap) and open to everyone. Here’s what’s coming up…

6.30pm Thursday 3 November
Goldsmiths Showoff: Strange days
Comedy and cabaret in the pub featuring a line-up of Goldsmiths experts including Kate Devlin on the algorithms of online dating, Sylvia Pan on virtual humans, Sarah Wiseman on the quantified self, and Dee Harding on so-called experts.


4.30pm Monday 7 November
Lecture: What can Deep Neural Networks learn from music?
Douglas Eck (Google Brain) discusses Magenta, a project to generate music, video, images and text using machine intelligence.


4pm Wednesday 9 November
Lecture: Linguistic and perceptual colour categories
Christoph Witzle (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen) discusses his work investigating how linguistic colour categories may be related to colour perception.


4pm Wednesday 16 November
Lecture: Cultural Computing: Looking for Japan
Renowned media artist Naoko Tosa discusses the role of information technology in enabling new understandings of a multicultural world.


4pm Thu 17 Nov NEW!
Lecture: The Hearing Body
Talk on using of sound to change people´s experiences of their body and the surrounding space, as well as its impact on emotion and behaviour.


6.30pm Thursday 17 November NEW!
Talk and performance: Unreal-time improv and actual-timeline composition
Composer and improviser Panos Ghikas discusses his research developing a live performance interface for navigation through audio-timelines with the purpose of re-sequencing audio gestures.


Friday 18 – Sunday 20 November NEW!
I am human: precarious journeys
Featuring interactive design by Goldsmiths Computing and music by Brian Eno, Sue Clayton’s multimedia installation traces the journeys of refugees as they navigate the perils of the sea, the national border and the camp.


Sat 19 – Sun 20 November
AdventureX: Narrative Games Convention
Now in its sixth year, AdventureX is a free event bringing together developers & gamers with a passion for interactive storytelling. Encompassing everything from retro pixel-hunts to rich, branching narratives, AdventureX is celebration of creativity, indie development and geek culture.


3pm Thursday 22 November NEW!
Innovation Lecture Series: Kate Russell (BBC Click)
Kate Russell writes about technology, gaming and the Internet reports for BBC technology programme Click. Her book Working the Cloud is aims to help businesses better use the Internet.


4pm Wednesday 23 November
Characterising human imagination through art and science
Sheldon Brown (Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination) shows artworks that aim to engage components of cognition that make up “the imagination”.


4pm Wednesday 30 November
Lecture: Attention and cross-cultural differences
Eirini Mavritsaki (Birmingham City Uni) discusses her use of computational models to observe differences in visual attention in East Asian and European American cultures.


4pm Wednesday 8 December
Lecture: Composer, Performer, Listener
Jason Freeman (Georgia Tech) explores real-time music notation, live coding, laptop ensembles, mobile technology, and open-form scores.


Friday 17 – Saturday 18 December
Sex Tech Hack NEW!
A 24-hour hackathon exploring sex tech hardware, interfaces and apps, working on the themes of intimacy, companionship and sexuality.


Monday 19 – Tuesday 20 December
Conference: Love & Sex with Robots
In this 2-day conference, academics and industry professionals discuss their work on intelligent sex tech, teledildonics, ethics, gender and sex robots.


Goldsmiths project gets more girls into computing

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Lecturer Dr Sarah Wiseman reports on a Goldsmiths initiative to get more girls studying and working in computing.


An issue common to computer science departments throughout the world is the gender inequality in the student population. Almost wherever you look, the majority of students are male. For the past 10 years, just 15% of students accepted to computer science degree programmes were women – though here at Goldsmiths, the figures are a more healthy 31%.

To tackle this inequality, there are many initiatives being set up to try and encourage more women to consider computer science as an option for further education. These can range from peer support groups for women in university (such as the Hoppers in Edinburgh) to dedicated programs aimed at educating young girls (for example Black Girls Code) and women (for example Code Liberation).

Not all initiatives are successful however. Do you remember Hack A Hair Dryer? IBM set out to encourage women into computing and engineering by suggesting they create things using their hairdryers – a message that could easily be considered pretty patronising.

This year at Goldsmiths, we wanted to approach the problem by doing something that would benefit both boys and girls who were might be interested in computer science; we wanted to provide school children with strong female role models.

We decided to run a series of workshops that would do just that, whilst also showcasing the exciting and diverse range of topics that come under the term “computer science”. We invited 100 pupils aged between 12 and 15 from schools within the local area to come to Goldsmiths and get involved in one of four different computer science-related workshops run by women within the department.

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The first workshop looked at problem solving. The aim of this session was to give the kids an idea about the types of puzzles you can solve in computer science. The pupils learnt about encryption by sending a chained up, locked box file between groups. The contents of the box, decided by the students at the time, ranged from Justin Beiber’s new album title to nuclear missile launch codes (both equally sensitive information). Other tasks included arranging celebrities in alphabetical order for the red carpet (using sorting algorithms) and designing a city layout using graph theory.

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In other workshops, children programmed Arduinos to send Morse code, and created a servo-powered fortune teller. In our Game Design workshop the children considered how games can be designed to be fun and engaging, and designed their own board games and rule sets. The process isn’t as easy as it seems, no matter how many coloured pens and tokens you have available to you!

The final workshop looked at machine learning, and how you can use the webcam on your computer to create an instrument. Rebecca Fiebrink showed pupils how to use her fantastic Wekinator tool to create drum machines controlled by moving in front of the webcam. The noise from that lesson was quite incredible, from the strange and wonderful noises coming from the instruments, and from the students’ excited conversations while they learnt about machine learning.

At Goldsmiths, we want 50% of our Computing students to be women. And one of the ways of doing this is by working with the generation of children who are just beginning to think about what they want to do at GCSE and ‘A’ level. This project engaged 100 kids – and we’re looking forward to meeting more of them next year.


Thanks to Harris Academy Peckham, Harris Girls’ Academy, Eltham Hill School, Streatham and Clapham High School and Chislehurst School for Girls.