Broken Brexit (2019)

A colouring and activity book for grown-ups

Looking back over the past three years, Brexit has proved more gripping than any TV drama or Zombie movie; glueing the UK public to their seats  while the EU and rest of the world look on in amazement and horror as a once great nation spirals into terminal decline.

Buy the book online (Etsy):  https://etsy.me/2M74948

aaron banks

This colouring and activity book captures the excitement and craziness of the period – the characters, the locations, the slogans, the lies, scheming and nail-biting political crises in dot-to-dot scenes and colouring pages. Character trivia, cool anecdotes and Brexit facts are mixed in along the way, so you can re-live the intensity of those memorable Brexit moments.

This is a 100 page colour book, A4 format, for sale in selected bookshops in London. £ 11.50.

wheat fields

Buy the book online (Etsy): https://etsy.me/2M74948

Sherwood Rise (2013)

Sherwood Rise was the world’s first augmented reality (AR) novel, which was the result of a Post Doc at the University of Bedfordshire dedicated to experimenting with the future of the book, and how to make a physical book interactive. Dave Moorhead wrote the script, and the result was an interactive story that really pushed the boundaries.

This was an AR transmedia interactive graphic novel and game, told over four days through a range of media and formats: newspapers, AR on mobile phones, emails, websites, blogs, sound, music, and graphic novels. The story was basically the classic Robin Hood story applied to post financial crash GB.

Over 4 days you receive a newspaper which you can interact with, via AR on a mobile phone. Your interaction updates a database, which then dictates the newspaper edition you receive the next day. This is a type of “real game” where you simulate taking part in a revolution and are forced to take sides. 

crime scene

It’s a story told in a range of media on multiple platforms, to expand a traditional printed story, adding additional layers of story through AR, and an interactive story where readers determine the outcome. This was a research collaboration between Dave Miller and Dave Moorhead, ost-doc research funded by the University of Bedfordshire and UNESCO Future of the Book project, 2012-14. 

savoy chef

An academic article published in ‘Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies’, describes the project in detail. 

The AR browser technology (Junaio) used as the basis of the story is now defunct, so I cant currently provide a link. 

Illustrations and the aesthetics of AR on mobile phones play a large part in the storytelling, so please take a look at the Flickr feed, and this PDF presentation to the MINA festival (2016) provides further detail on the project.

Occupy London with Cartoons (2011)

During the Occupy site at St Pauls, London, there were lots of drawings and paintings sellotaped to the walls; the area became a sort of temporary public Art gallery. Works full of slogans and messages, full of passion.

It occurred to me that many people wanted to express their views in this way, and contribute their own art work to express their support and solidarity; but they couldn’t physically be at St Pauls.

I built an online cartoon tool to make it easy to collaboratively author your own political/satirical cartoons. Once a week I printed them, went to St Pauls and stuck them on the walls. Some well known artists contributed their work, building up a big stock of ‘ready-made’ fantastic drawings and cartoons – for everyone to remix into their own political cartoons.

The project was a collectively authored and networked satire, giving people a chance to participate/ support/ speak out/ in a creative way.

Link to the project

Buddy Rivers Live (2008)

With Dawn & Len

Buddy Rivers Live was a live networked performance of an automatic comedian. The first performance took place in a gallery in Bermondsey, London, in 2008. The project used live internet searches and feeds to create jokes automatically/ on the fly. These text jokes were then converted into voice via a (server based) text to speech synthesiser, and then finally relayed to the audience. This automatic process meant that Buddy told jokes forever!

Buddy & Reg

The core of this project is a computer network generated comedian, capable of an endless generated network performance. His performance is even affected by user interaction (heckling), and I built in some primitive AI.

I wanted to construct a character who could say unpredictable things and upset people. Adding sound to this project took my work into new areas. It was like bringing my creation to life. I set up a text-to-speech synthesiser on an Internet server, so each constructed joke was transformed into speech. 

Leroy Club

I wrote a backstory for this project, and published some interviews in the pre-show material, to try to drum up interest beforehand. The idea was that Buddy used to be a famous comedian, and hung around with many big stars. He used to perform often at the Leroy Club, but eventually his popularity waned and he retired to Marbella. This was to be a one-off show, to help save the club.

A walk in the park with Joseph Paxton (2008)

This is an interactive story, which tries to work as a conversation and visual story combined. It deals with a controversial, topical and emotive local issue, concerning the development of Crystal Palace park (in London) after many years of neglect. Lots of plans and architectural designs were put forward, and local people consulted. But it occurred to me that one voice seriously missing from the consultation, was that of the master architect and planner Joseph Paxton, who conceived the original design for the park. I thought it would be interesting to imagine his point of view.

concert area

I’ve tried here to make this online interactive story unfold as a conversation, which is often considered the highest form of interactivity. The work is inspired by the ‘Eliza’ project, an interactive psuedo therapist/ counsellor which was built many years ago, and simulates a conversation (this has been expanded upon by Alexa etc):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA

My intentions are that the conversation presents an independent view of the situation, avoiding one side or the other, and local politics. The work tries to see above that. I hope the work is more questioning, acting on a deeper level.

Link to the project

Newscomic (2008)

Newscomic (2008) recycles the news, re-mixes it, subverts and distorts it. It takes live news feeds, chops them up, reworks them and places the text into speech bubbles in a comic. The result is a disjointed reading experience, where the words and pictures don’t quite match but create their own meaning from the network.

Newscomic has been described as a generative satire, that takes RSS feeds from major newspapers, uses PHP and databases to chop them up and generate interesting strings, based on the feed content and user input, then puts the resultant text into speech bubbles in a 3-panel comic format. 

The result is a disjointed comic, where the words and pictures don’t quite fit but instead make their own story, blurring fact and fiction. Sometimes the story makes sense, and readers/ users always found it fun to experiment with the stories. Possibly, this early experimental idea seems to be part of what is now referred to as “Conditional Text” in recent interactive story works (Ambient Literature). 

Often the stories generated are quite surreal, and can even be revealing. 

Link to project – Newscomic (2008)

Link to Flickr stream

The Wreckers (2007)

This is an interactive work on the subject of ‘wreckers’. In 2007 a container ship was grounded off the coast of Devon, England, and locals looted it. My idea was to make ‘debate drawings’ – networked drawings generated by a debate on a specific topic. I wrote a script and database to combine web feeds and comments, and convert into shapes and lines.

This is what I call ‘Feed Art’ – mixing & mashing networked data into pictures to create an informed image – a ‘conflict picture’ or ‘debate drawing’. There are two sets of comments being pulled into the picture: a news feed on the subject of the wreckers, and the user comments from this site. They work to support or conflict with each other – there’s a debate going on within the picture.

This mix makes the work more connected to the subject, and gives rise to chance forms and connections to make interesting images & unintended meanings. The feed and user entries are converted into shapes, so all forms in the picture reflect the data itself. 

Link to the project

Bassey Mixed Up (2006)

Shirley Bassey Mixed Up is an experimental illustrated networked generative biography, made in 2006. The illustrations are network generated, built dynamically from Yahoo searches. Through specifying different searches and playing with the customisation options, readers create an illustration for each page of the story.

Bassey collage

Through specifying different searches and playing with the options, readers create an illustration for each page of the story. Pulling in data from the Internet and manipulating/ transforming it within a story, this work can be described as a networked narrative. 

Bassey collage

Link to the project

Tense Nervous Headaches? (2007)

The ‘Tense Nervous Headaches’ project involved exploratory walks around different locations in London, mapping local electromagnetic radiation.

I hosted two exploratory walks around Crystal Palace, measuring radiation levels. Following detailed research into planning applications for the local area, the story of each mobile mast was investigated, along with the technical data for each type of transmitter installed, and the known medical effects. Participants measured radiation and drew on maps, contributing to a collaborative artwork – which was effectively a map of local mobile phone radiation.

The first exploratory walks were held in 2007, at Crystal Palace, followed by walks in 2013, for an exhibition at the Furtherfield Gallery, Finsbury Park, London. The walks proved to be very popular, and I have received many requests to do similar projects in other places.

Link to project

walks map

Cocklepickers (2005)

Interactive story dealing with the tragedy of the chinese migrant workers who died in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, in 2004. The interactive approach offers a non-linear way of exploring all of the issues, and each person has a different experience, and effectively creates their own story.

There are many separate and interconnected strands to this story: the experience of the workers, the bosses exploiting cheap work, the reactions of local people, the families in China, the media/political reactions and economics. 

These strands are parallel narratives through the story. Each one is small view of the bigger picture, giving a different perspective. Each page of the story is an illustration.

Link to story