Welcome to the blog of Spike Dennis; an artist and sometime curator. Trained in London Spike has exhibited widely, from London to Los Angeles, and has delivered projects from Cardiff to Stockholm, for organisations including the Illustration Research network and Cardiff Design Festival amongst Others.
I’ve been exploring more digital means of producing art work of late and my enquiries led to the discovery of Memory Cloud by Minimaforms aka Theodore & Stephen Spyropoulos. Through their Minimaforms platform they have created a number of wonderful interactive artworks such as Memory Cloud which is described as “animating the built environment through conversation“.
Memory Clouds was presented at Trafalgar Square, London, in conjunction with the ICA in 2008. The work was based on smoke signals – one of the oldest forms of visual communication – and for three nights the public was invited to participate by sending text messages that were grafted onto plumes of smoke with light.
It was the use of mobile phones as a point of interaction in this work that particularly grabbed my attention having been using QR codes in my own recent works.
Whilst I’m not encouraging quite such collective participation within my own work – in so much as participants will have their own personal experience on their own device – mobile technology is now so massively prevalent in our culture that it does make it an easy point of access.
My programming skills are way off being able to create something as complex as Memory Clouds but having recently delved into the world of Processing I’m excited by the possibilities that these digital technologies can provide.
With the recent launch of my Unicorn Dating project I have been creating web based content in addition to my embroideries. This is the content which viewers will be able to engage with via the QR codes stitched into the physical work.
So far this content has included videos, animated embroideries and more interactive content such as the opportunity to sign up with your own profile at www.unicorn-dating.com. This idea of providing more interactive rather than passive content appeals to me and so I’ve been poking about in the world of Processing.
Processing is a programming language and development environment that promotes software literacy within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology so it should be the ideal platform from which to start exploring interactive aspects of my work.
I’m pretty competent with a number of digital languages such as HTML and PHP and I’ve dabbled with programming Arduino’s too which meant that the Processing environment was not at all daunting; there are definitely similarities between some of these languages.
I’m still at a very basic level with Processing having only been exploring the platform for a few hours but I thought I’d share this first (very rough) sketch. The code above was used to generate this drawing over at unicorn-dating.com.
It’s a very crude sketch of a unicorn – but we’ve all got to start somewhere! The unicorn will follow your cursor (or finger on a portable device) around the screen. The plan is that this content will be optimised for portable devices but at the moment the sketch is working better on larger screens.
The Royal School for Needlework are running the 21st Century Embroidered Sampler Competition to coincide with their current exhibition of samplers which runs until July 2014.
The challenge is to design a 21st century sampler which will become part of the RSN Archive Collection for future generations to enjoy. There are no limits as to what elements the sampler may or may not contain but the maximum size for the design is 45cm square.
The winner will get the opportunity to make up their sampler design for the RSN (with some help if required) so that it becomes part of the RSN’s Collection for years to come.
The current exhibition of samplers should provide a great source of inspiration if you’re tempted to enter this competition. The show features work from 1731- 2013, from band samplers to ABCs with Bible verses, patterns and motifs, map samplers, darning samplers, long sewing and stitch lesson samplers from school days to doll-size costumes to illustrate stitching, making-up and patching.
Kalopsia opened their new gallery space at Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, last Saturday evening with the launch of the second iteration of their What Is Textiles? exhibition.
The exhibition features my Baba Yaga embroidery but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it all the way up to Edinburgh for the launch event. From the video above it looks like the evening was a great success which drew a great number of visitors to the gallery.
This is a short, and slightly bonkers trailer for Stitch Fetish 2: Electric Boogaloo opening at the Hive Gallery next week. The video features teasers of some of the work on show and an introduction by curator Ellen Schinderman and her butler Wilkinson.
These embroidered plastic bags are from Nicoletta de la Brown’s El Barrio Bodega series of which she says:
Rescued from the gutter; blowing down the street like city tumbleweed. I reclaim and elevate what once was discarded by creating embellished art objects.
The combination of the time consuming heavily worked embroidery and the throw away nature of plastic carrier bags makes for a fascinating piece of work. Through skill and the dedication of time the everyday throw-away is promoted above its commonly held station and presented to us as an art object.