Author Archives: Victoria Bradbury

Up the Creek / Under the Cloud Exhibition, University of Sunderland

UP THE CREEK / UNDER THE CLOUD was a participatory exhibition that showcased two new artworks by Victoria Bradbury and Alexia Mellor.  The show was produced by Into Practice member Victoria Bradbury on the 20th and 21st of January at the University of Sunderland Shaun Project Space and Showcase Space.  Bradbury showed her new work, Data Raft, while Newcastle-based artist Alexia Mellor presented Quilting Code, a new work in progress.   Each of these emerging pieces explored ideas of data and code through hand and automated embroidery.  Attendees were invited to contribute to a code-quilt or print custom sails based on their personal and public data.



Bradbury’s Data Raft explored concepts of data privacy and code performativity through individually constructed stick rafts.  Each raft was paired with a custom sail designed from participant-volunteered metadata, then floated on one of the in-gallery ponds.

Mellor’s Quilting Code explored cloud data and top search results through the design of embroidered custom codes.  The piece searches for ways to represent and preserve relevant data through an intertwining of the traditional medium of the quilting bee and the Internet. Mellor is a visual artist and Director of Participatory Programming at NewBridge Project Space, Newcastle.
The artists spoke about their projects and previous works at an artist presentation on Monday the 20th.  The talk was attended by Sunderland students as well as artists and curators based in Newcastle and Sunderland. Students from both Sunderland Uni and Newcastle Uni volunteered as artist assistants during the exhibition period.

Into Practice Inaugural Event Feedback and Reflection

Last week, Into Practice launched our first event at ISIS arts in Newcastle.  The event was an opportunity to share what the emerging group is setting out to accomplish, and to share with local practitioners some of the resources that we encountered while in Sydney in June.

At the event, Suzy launched with her presentation around organisations, curators, and artists that work between commercial and art sectors.  Marialaura followed, discussing her work with and hybrid contexts online and offline.  Victoria discussed the practicalities of creating work that moves between code and object-making and how these modes inform and shape a final work.  Dominic wrapped up the discussion with historic examples of networked platforms and how Into Practice and similar groups can extend the online dialogue in a hybrid context.

The straightforward mode of sharing with other artists and curators about how we make art happen, through specific examples, was useful to those in attendance, who suggested that this event could be taken further with more sharing of resources of future developing projects.  We received positive feedback from the attendees, who offered a great deal of energy behind the intent of the group: to share practice through practice.  Ideas were exchanged for future events and outlets where various types of initiatives could be tested and implemented.

Into Practice is now planning our next event at Banner Repeater in London on November 16th.  This will be a book sprint in which distributed participants from within and outside the art ecology will be invited to contribute, either at Banner Repeater or remotely, their inside practical knowledge to the book. Taking many forms, from diagrams to diaristic writing and from visuals to code, the book will come together by the closing of the event which will also be open to Banner Repeater’s audience. The book is the event and the event is the book.  More information will be forthcoming as the event approaches…


Into Practice_Sharing Session @ ISIS

When: Tuesday,  24 Sept 6 – 7pm
Venue: ISIS Arts, First Floor, 5 Charlotte Square,
 Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4XF

Into Practice is a collective of UK-based artists, curators and researchers that exists to support professional practice within the field of contemporary art and evolving technology by creating space for informal, open dialogue and critical discussion among practitioners.

We are delighted to invite you to our inaugural Sharing Session, hosted by ISIS Arts on Tuesday 24 September 6 – 7pm, where Victoria Bradbury, Marialaura Ghidini, Suzy O’Hara and Dominic Smith will briefly present Into Practice and key themes related to their personal practice and research.

The presentations will end with an open discussion about the group’s recent trip to ISEA 2013, gaining access to new networks and the possibility of creating a regional support network for contemporary art practitioners who work with new technologies and new distribution platforms.

Ghidini will present her curatorial work online, briefly outlining some key projects she has recently worked on. She will then open the presentation to discussing the idea of hybrid curatorial practices bringing in examples of other curator’s projects as well as encouraging attendees to propose examples from their own experience.

Bradbury will discuss technologies that she uses in her multimedia art practice including code, interactive installation, and handmade objects. She will then broaden the discussion to technologies that other artists employ in various contexts.

O’Hara will present current models and approaches for collaborative practice between the Digital, Creative industries and Arts sectors. Drawing examples from her own practice and the wider field, she will encourage participants to share their own experiences and insights.

Smith will talk about networked platforms for dissemination of artwork and their historical precedents. He will be sharing his current research and practice as it relates to how artists can create meaningful work for digital platforms.

The Sharing Session is an opportunity for actively engaged cultural practitioners to participate in an informal, open dialogue centered around learning from each others practice.

This event is free but space is limited. Please RSVP by Friday 20 September to Drinks and nibbles will be available.


Victoria – Sunday June 9

Installation with face detection by Isobel Knowles

I was taken aback when I first spotted Isobel Knowles installation in the George Street gallery because this form, with the head-hole peep-holes, Victorian influenced construction and push-button interface was resonant not only with installations I have done before,

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Instructions inside the box.

(see Midway Projections for example), but with countless sketchbook scrawlings considering the idea of faces being swapped and inserted into animations in a similar format, and dreams of building more filigreed boxes in which people can stick their heads.

Knowles piece is beautifully constructed as an object, with laser-cut overlaid panels, attention to detail from the bench upholstery, height of the interface, distance of the participants, and location of the headphones. 


My face in the animation

The inside is considered with side-mounted lights, instructions on the bottom inside of the box, and angled holes at the sides that allow others from outside to see in and even photograph the two screens in front of the participants’ faces. When two people are seated at the bench, their faces are placed behind masks of animated figures as they move through an animated world.

I have to admit that my patience for sitting with the animation to determine if the narrative played out was limited. The most memorable scene is of the two figures on a bus ride, a man and a woman, with the participants faces, irrespective of gender, placed on the animations. It can be quite comical if the genders are switched or other gender-play combinations take place. In my own participatory work,


Participants looking into the box

I try to create a fairly clear-cut moment that can be experienced, then moved away from for another participant to watch or get involved. Perhaps Knowles was doing the same here, though how long someone “should” sit with the piece, whether there was a beginning or end, was unclear.  But again, this could either reflect the intention of the piece, or my lack of interest/patience with linear story-telling reflected back.

Lucas Abela’s – Temple of Din (Audio Arcade Project) in the Nostalgia of the New panel, MCA


Lucas Abela’s Vinyl Rally

Abela’s presentation helped me to continue a train of thought I have been having about clarity of interface in participatory works.

Abella, who has a noise music background, talked about his pieceVinyl Rally, which is set up with an arcade driving game interface, and his work, Pinball Piano, which uses a pinball/piano interface.  All of these are things that people already know how to approach, already know what to do with, and the artist seems to see this as a useful way to immediately bring people in to the work and keep them engaged.  There is no learning curve with the objects.

In many of my own works, the interface isn’t something that people are accustomed to encountering in games or in computing.  In Witch Pricker, there is a pin, with a series of sculptural strawberries to poke.  This is unlike keyboards, screens levers, buttons, or mice that people are accustomed to using when they approach an interactive experience.


Witch Pricker strawberry poke, participatory work by Victoria Bradbury, Globe Gallery, 2013

Is clarity of interface important? What do readers think? Can an interface be unique, something never approached before, and still be clear enough for a user to have a valuable experience?

Abela also considers viewer competition in his works, thinking about how much and if the participants competing.  He said that people weren’t that interested when the installations were set up as a competition  He thought they would be interested In competition but they were not.  This is useful information and could also be considered in the context of my Witch Pricker installation because there could be a competitive element among participants or among oneself to see how many witches are found (or how many chocolates are obtained)!

…And I saw Stelarc (x2)

Stelarc x 2

Stelarc x 2


On our first day in Sydney, I attended the Spatio Temporal Anomalies Workshop, held at the University of Technology‘s Bon Marche Building’s digital media lab Studio 2.  The workhop was led by Nick Wishart of Toy Death and artist FMGrande.

In the morning, Nick talked about Toy Death and his history of hacking toys and circuit bending. Toy Death is an “All toy circuit bent band”. The 3 members take a DIY approach to their “Toy Aesthetic”, dress up as toys and play self-bent instruments.


They have performed in Australia and internationally.  After Nick discussed his work, he demonstrated circuit bending and the participants had the ability to solder together push-button sensors. I decided to delve into hacking a toy, which was a successful experiment all day, until the very end of the day when I fried the device!

There were four other participants in the workshop.  One was Rachael Priddel, an emerging artist from Sydney who has just completed a master in interactive art. She did her undergraduate degree in New Media art at the UTS. Rachel is very knowledgable about all things Sydney New Media. I was able to speak to her more at the evening ISEA opening event.  Also participating in the workshop was a faculty member at Arizona State in Tempe. His work and teaching are in the realm of sound art.  He is originally Norwegian, but I didn’t get his name (must find out as I often visit Arizona!). Another of the workshop participants was studying an “honors” (a form of master’s degree here) program in interactive art. She has a background in textile design and fiber arts and was wearing a garment that she has worn for 10 months straight, embroidering something on it every day!

Circuit Bending at Spatio Temporal Anomolies Workshop, ISEA 2013 from Victoria Bradbury.

In the afternoon, Nick talked with me about what he called a “circuit bender’s tour of the US” that he undertook, visiting circuit benders and hackerspaces in Troy New York, Detroit, and Columbus Ohio. He was most excited about the size of some of the warehouse spaces that the American hackers living in post-industrial cities had access to in order to do their work.  The tour began with a Toy Death performance in a storefront window in Manhattan.



FMGrande discussed his own work, then demonstrated VDMX software in conjunction with iCube_X sensors, an approach to interactivity using a pre-built sensor model rather than creating one’s own sensors with arduino or rasberry pi.  His experience was that these sensors are very robust in an installation context and they stand up to a lot of abuse, but they are quite expensive!  They offer a usb, a wi-fi, and a bluetooth interface, and the sensor kit includes a glove with flex sensors, laser sensors, touch and pressure sensors, light sensors (all of your normal go-to inputs).  The kit seems useful as a time-saving measure over creating/building your own sensors if there is a quick turn-around time on an installation project.

iCube-X Laser sensor

iCube-X Laser sensor

FMGrande mentioned that, during one installation of his, the bluetooth interface gave up after only a few minutes of the opening of the show and he spent four days trying to get the piece working again.  The pitfalls of NMA installation! I think that every artist runs into these snags.  The iCube-X sensors would be something to consider if a project was well-funded and the time frame for production was short, or the scale too large to make the sensors oneself.

The laser sensor interested me the most as I have not worked with lasers before and remember a piece from GH Hovagnym’s artist talk at ISIS arts in Newcastle that used lasers to create a room-scale immersive environment that reminds viewers of being inside of a video game. The piece was early for laser technology in an art context, 2001.

Shooter – G.H. Hovagimyan & Peter Sinclair, 2001 installation view Eyebebeam Atelier. photo: G.H. Hovagimyan

After the workshops, I walked from the UTS to Carriageworks, where the ISEA opening celebration was being held.  There I was able to catch up with Sarah, Marialaura, Dominic and Suzy from CRUMB and meet some of the other delegates to the conference, as well as catch up with old friends and contacts.  I saw Fei Jun, my friend from CAFA in Beijing, who I didn’t expect to meet in Sydney.  I also caught up with Ian Mcarthur and Brad Miller from COFA in Sydney, who I had met in Beijing in the Fall of 2012.  These two artists are presenting the Running the City exhibition at COFA.  I met for the first time Andrea Polli from Sante Fe, Toronto-based artist Peter Fleming, Canadian artist Judith Doyle and Naomi Lamb.

Ryoji Ikeda with Suzy O'Hara

Ryoji Ikeda with Suzy O’Hara

I had my first in-person experience of a Ryoji Ikeda installation at Carriageworks.