WHAT: People doing strange things with electricity
WHEN: Thursday, 26th of May, 6-7pm
WHERE: UNSW Art & Design (formally COFA), room D205
COST: Free!

Dorkbot Sydney is proud to be hosting a special talk by the Perth based artist and researcher from Symbiotica Guy Ben-Ary next week. In Sydney for his upcoming presentation of a new work cellF, the world’s first neural synthesiser, which will be presented at Cellblock Theatre at the National Art School from June 10-12.

The cellF “brain” is made of biological neural networks that grow in a Petri dish and controls in real time it’s “body” that is made of an array of analogue modular synthesizers that work in synergy with it and play with human musicians. It is a completely autonomous instrument that consists of a neural network that is bio-engineered from my own cells that control a custom-built synthesizer. There is no programming or computers involved, only biological matter and analogue circuits; a ‘wet-analogue’ instrument.

There is a surprising similarity in the way neural networks and analogue modular synthesizers function, in that for both, voltages are passed through components to produce data or sound. The neural interface we developed juxtaposes these two networks and in a sense creates a continuum that creates one unified network. With CellF, the musician and musical instrument become one entity to create a cybernetic musician, a rock star in a petri dish.

For more details on the work:

Guy Ben-Ary, born in Los Angeles, is a Perth based artist and researcher. He currently works at SymbioticA, an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and hands-on engagement with the life sciences, which is located within the University of Western Australia.  Recognised internationally as a major artist and innovator working across science and media arts, Guy specialises in biotechnological artwork, which aims to enrich our understanding of what it means to be alive.

Guy’s work has been shown across the globe at prestigious venues and festivals from the Beijing National Art Museum to San Paulo Biennale to the Moscow Biennale. His work can also be seen in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2009, his work Silent Barrage was awarded an Honorary Mention in Prix Ars Electronica (Austria) and also won first prize at VIDA, a significant international competition for Art and Artificial Life.

Guy  specializes in microscopy, biological & digital imaging, tissue engineering. His Main research areas are cybernetics, robotics and the interface of biological material to robotics. Much of Ben-Ary’s work is inspired by science and nature.  His artworks utilize motion and growth to investigate technological aspects of today’s culture and the re-use of biological materials and technologies.

Guy is in town to participate in the exhibition The Patient, curated by Bec Dean for UNSW Galleries. The exhibition opens on 2nd June. The performances of cellF are part of the program for The Patient.

For more details about Ben-Ary’s upcoming Sydney performances go to this eventbrite page.

DORKBOT SUPPORTS: Creativity & Cognition Studios: Hacking the Stage feat. Elke Utermöhlen and Martin Slawig (blackhole-factory) + Chris Bowman + Linda Walsh


Augmenting the Senses – Artists Talk

Dorkbot Sydney and Creativity and Cognition Studios present a special event of artist presentations featuring visiting audiovisual media artists Elke Utermöhlen and Martin Slawig (blackhole-factory) from Germany, Chris Bowman, Sydney and Linda Walsh.

Friday 2nd October 11am – 1pm
Creativity and Cognition Studios
Level 6, Room 402, UTS Building 11, Broadway

Elke Utermöhlen and Martin Slawig (blackhole-factory)


We use technology to expand space and develop new performance practices incorporating augmented reality environments and data visualisation and sonification. In this talk, we present examples of our installations and performances that illustrate how we understand expanded spaces: opening the boundaries of space, sensing the environment through outdoor-sensors, connecting spaces over the internet or linking performers equipped with sensors.  Most of our work uses self-deciding systems that confront the performer with unpredictable behavior. We will show some work in progress, which we will be developing during our residency in Sydney as well as talking about our use of Max/MSP, Arduino, sensors and XBee modules. These arts projects aim to examine issues of appropriation and transformation and emancipation from preformed reality.

Chris Bowman

Sydney_ExhibitionDesign2 23

In February 2015, Chris Bowman and Holger Deuter led a special interdisciplinary design studio in the UTS Data Arena for 3rd year students from UTS’s School of Design. Students from various design disciplines engaged with one of Australia’s leading choreographers, Dean Walsh who demonstrated for the first time at UTS the motion capture capabilities of the Data Arena system.  This presentation explores the concept development, visualisation and animation processes used by the students in response to the brief, the 360 degree cinematic space in the Data Arena and the choreographic data which the students rendered as prototype 2D and 3D animation assets. This special student lab extended the work undertaken by the tranSTURM collective on the short film, Heroic commissioned by Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

Linda Walsh


This presentation will describe the new work “ Blue Space” for oboe and interactive audio-visual system, that uses motion tracking, real-time fluid simulation and granular sound synthesis to create a responsive digital environment. The gestures, movements and sounds made by the oboist generate the audio-visual digital content which is projected in real-time. The interactive system used for Blue Space has its origins in the dance work ‘Encoded’, performed in 2012 by the Stalker Theatre, which used a fluid simulation system developed by Andrew Johnston at the Creativity and Cognition Studios at UTS. The addition of sound to the original system led to the earlier experimental works for oboe, Sound Stream and Airflow in 2013.
Based on Gaston Bachelard’s philosophical text ‘Water and Dreams’, Blue Space explores the relationships between water, image and sound. Taking form in many kinds of fluid, vapour, ice crystals and rain, water appears in its diverse moods, encompassing tranquility, power, life and death. While the work has a clearly defined structure, improvised sections allow flexible interaction during performance as the artists react to each other and to the output of the system.

DORKBOT AT THE MCA : Energies sensed, scavenged, harvested, experienced


Dorkbot Sydney (“people doing strange things with electricity”) presents a special event at the MCA to coincide with the Energies: Haines & Hinterding exhibition. Join artists Paul Greedy, Emily Morandini, Pia van Gelder and Peter Blamey as they discuss their explorations and experiences in making works that embrace a range of energies: acoustic, chemical, electromagnetic, psychic and beyond. Hear how these artists are engaging with energies in the arts stretching from the tangible to the intangible, via the sonic, therapeutic, geophysical and astronomical.

Thu 16 July, 6.30 – 8pm
Free, bookings essential
MCA Level 2, Veolia Lecture Theatre

Spaces limited, CLICK HERE to book early for this popular event.
Artist bios:

Emily Morandini is a Sydney based media artist, educator, and researcher. Touching upon histories of technology, her work seeks to reimagine intersections between nature, craft, and electronics. Currently she is a PhD candidate at UNSW Art & Design.

Paul Greedy is a Sydney based artist whose practice engages with the phenomenal world and the complexities of physical dynamics. Through works that mediate basic phenomena such as light, sound, air pressure, temperature etc, Greedy creates situations that seek to expand our understanding of how energy manifests and shapes our impressions of the world.

Pia van Gelder is an artist and researcher who often makes instruments that generate video and sound for performances or interactive installations. Recently, Pia’s work has been influenced by historical inquiries into esoteric understandings of the body and energy.

Peter Blamey is an artist, musician and researcher. His work explores themes of sound, energy, and the reimagining of technology through questioning accepted notions of connectivity, variability and use. His practice is typically grass roots, establishing interactions between disparate everyday technologies in order to produce performances, artworks and installations that investigate the relationships between people, technologies and their environments

Image: Pia van Gelder, Build Your Own BioSynth workshop, Performance Space, 2013. Photo: Lucy Parakhina

DORKBOT SYD : MAY 2015 : Electromechanical Percussion + Body-Centred Interactivity + Mobile Phone Orchestra


WHAT: People doing strange things with electricity, in association with Musify+Gamify (Vivid 2015)
WHEN: Monday May 18th, 6-8pm
WHERE: UNSW Art & Design (formally COFA) courtyard ‘Black Box’ 1st floor D Block, cnr Oxford St and Greens Rd, Paddington (see map at bottom of post)
COST: Free!



Robbie Avenaim – Percussionist and composer who’s practice combines traditional and extended techniques with physical modification of the drums. Recent modifications have included the invention and application of motorised percussive mechanisms, namely SARPS (Semi Automated Robotic Percussion System) and it’s latest development SARPS 2.0. The design of new instruments is an integral part of Avenaim’s improvisatory and compositional processes in providing access to a greater vocabulary of sounds as well as expanding the role of percussion in experimental and contemporary classical musics. His kinetic sound installations have been featured at numerous galleries and festivals around the world.



Body Ba-Bump, Lian Loke
The body as a prime generator for creativity, performance and interaction.
Ideas and projects from subtle seat bone dancing to jamming gravity sound platforms.


The mobile phone orchestra is a sonic experiment in automated collaborative composition. With the rise of the portable .mp3 player we find ourselves surrounded by crowds of people all wearing headphones, immersed in their own private sonic landscape. The Mobile Phone Orchestra attempts to blend these private landscapes together to create a shared sonic environment that is unique to each separate performance. The next evolution of the Mobile Phone Orchestra will combine motion tracking and physical simulations to add an entirely new level of interaction and playfulness into the collaborative composition process. This brand new work in progress will have participants randomly exploring their combined musical collections by playing ping pong.

Are you lost? We’re here! (Google Maps link)

musifyGamifyLogo     UNSWlogoColour


WHAT: “People doing strange things with electricity”
WHEN: Tuesday 31st March, 6-8
WHERE: University of New South Wales, Art & Design (formerly known as Cofa!), Fblock, Room F205 (SEE MAP AT THE BOTTOM)
COST: Freeeeeee!

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 4.59.21 pm


Ever wanted to communicate with a NASA space probe launched in 1978, or spoof a restaurant’s pager system? There are surprising similarities! How about use an airport’s Primary Surveillance RADAR to build your own bistatic RADAR system and track moving objects? What sorts of RF transactions take place in RFID systems, such as toll booths, building security and vehicular keyless entry? Wireless systems, and their radio signals, are everywhere: consumer, corporate, government, amateur – widely deployed and often vulnerable. If you have ever wondered what sort of information is buzzing around you, this talk will introduce how you can dominate the RF spectrum by ‘blindly’ analysing any signal, and then begin reverse engineering it from the physical layer up. I will demonstrate how these techniques can be applied to dissect and hack RF communications systems, such as those above, using open source software and Software Defined Radio.

I’ll also look briefly at some other systems that are close to my heart: reversing satellite communications, tracking aircraft using Mode S and visualising local airspace in real-time on a 3D map, monitoring the health of aircraft with ACARS (how many faults have been reported by the next plane you’ll be travelling on, e.g. do the toilets work?), and hunting down the source of an interfering clandestine radio transmission.

– Twitter:
– Meetup:
– YouTube: adventure around the Bay Area: USRP B200: Exploring the Wireless World



Michela Ledwidge introduces Rack&Pin, a web service platform for managing interactive experience from concept through to operations. This presentation looks at challenges and opportunities for directing creative experience in a networked world. Case studies include the ACO VIRTUAL immersive video installation (Manly Gallery & Museum 27 March – 3 May), the Power of 1 exhibition (Old Parliament House, and remixed for Canberra’s Enlighten Festival) and the dirtgirlworld TV series (ABC, BBC, CBC, PBS Sprout).

Michela is an artist and director creating interactive entertainment and live experiences. She is co-founder of studio Mod Productions and a board member of the Australian Directors Guild.



CREATE aims to provide an opportunity for its members to learn practical skills in engineering, invention and design, as well as collaborate on ideas and projects. They run workshops on microcontroller programming, 3d printing, electrical circuit design and UAV development, as well as manage hackerspaces at the UNSW Kensington and Art & Design campuses, provide a 3D printing service and source electronic and robotics components for members.

Nathan Adler, a 6th year combined mechatronics and commerce undergraduate student, is one of the founding members and current president of a student-led society at the University of New South Wales called CREATE, which has grown to over 1500 members in just over 2 years. As a member of CREATE, he specializes in UAV development, microcontroller programming, low energy bluetooth development and CAD modelling for 3D printing. Nathan is the lecturer of a self-designed weekly workshop series at UNSW on Arduino programming and interfacing with hardware and sensors. Nathan partnered with another UAV enthusiast and student Rory San Miguel as part of CREATE to research, design and source affordable autonomous quadcopter kits for interested students, which has since developed into an UAV development team. Along with founding president Sam Cassisi, he also established UNSW’s first robotics and electronics shop, weekly hackerspace and 3D printing service to cater for the needs of students with engineering and design projects.

Are you lost? We’re here!

DORKBOT SUPPORTS: DESIGN LAB: Digital Creative Practice Talks—Anthony Rowe (Squidsoup, UK)

When: Monday, March 2 @ 17:30 – 19:00
Where: ALT2 (Architecture Lecture Theatre 2), Wilkinson Building (G04) 148 City Road, Darlington, 2006
RSVP: Here


Squidsoup is an international group of artists, researchers and designers (UK/NO/NZ) working with digital and interactive media experiences. Their work combines sound, physical space and virtual worlds to produce immersive and emotive headspaces where participants can take an active role in their experience. They explore the modes and effects of interactivity, looking to make digitally mediated experiences where meaningful and creative interaction can occur.
Their work is regularly shown at festivals, galleries and events around the globe. Recent events include solo shows in Bristol and Oslo, and participation in Mapping Festival (Switzerland), Cinekid (Netherlands), Sundance (USA), TIFF (Canada), Scopitone (France), Ars Electronica Festival and Museum (Austria), Glastonbury and Kinetica Arts Fair (UK). Squidsoup have permanent exhibitions at At Bristol (UK 2012), Royal Society of New Zealand (2012) and Contact Energy New Zealand (2013).
Recognition includes include Core77 Design Awards (Professional Notable Honoree 2013), Architecture Now Interior Awards (Finalist 2013), Best Design Awards (Bronze Award 2013), Prix File Lux (Honorary Mention 2010), a BAFTA nomination (2002) and an International EMMA (2000).

DORKBOT SUPPORTS : DESIGN LAB: Digital Creative Practice Talks : DANIEL JONES : MONDAY February 16

Daniel Jones is an artist and software engineer whose work explores new ways in which sound and technology can illuminate our understanding of the world, producing large-scale sculptural sound installations and systems that translate patterns and processes into musical forms.

Daniel will discuss two recent works — Living Symphonies, a touring outdoor piece that grows in the same way as a forest ecosystem, and Phantom Terrains, a platform that enables its hearing-impaired wearer to hear the surrounding landscape of wifi networks — and argues that these two seemingly disparate outputs inhabit the same creative


When: Monday, February 16 @ 17:30 – 19:00
Where: ALT1 (Architecture Lecture Theatre 1)
Wilkinson Building (G04) 148 City Road, Darlington, 2006

Daniel Jones is an artist and software engineer whose work explores new ways in which sound and technology can illuminate our understanding of the world. This manifests itself in both scientific and artistic output: he has published work on process composition, creativity theory, systems ecology and artificial life, and exhibits his sound work internationally, harnessing algorithmic processes to create self-generating artworks.

Recent works include Phantom Terrains (with Frank Swain, 2014), a platform for ubiquitous sonification of wireless network landscapes; Living Symphonies (with James Bulley, 2014-), a landscape sound work that grows in the same way as a forest ecosystem; Global Breakfast Radio (with Seb Emina, 2014-), an autonomous radio station that broadcasts live radio from wherever the sun is rising; The Listening Machine (with Peter Gregson, 2012), a 6-month-long online composition which translates social network dynamics into a piece of orchestral music, recorded with Britten Sinfonia and commissioned by the BBC/Arts Council’s The Space; Variable 4 (with James Bulley, 2011), an outdoor sound installation which transforms live weather conditions into musical patterns; Maelstrom (with James Bulley, 2012), which uses audio material from media-publishing websites as a distributed, virtual orchestra; Horizontal Transmission (2011), a digital simulation of bacterial communication mechanisms; and AtomSwarm (2006—2009), a musical performance system based upon swarm dynamics.

Daniel’s engineering work includes Chirp, a platform and iOS app for sharing information over sound, shortlisted for the Design Museum’s Designs Of The Year; the 3D audio engine for mobile games Papa Sangre and The Nightjar, nominated for two BAFTAs including “Audio Achievement”. He co-ordinated the technical infrastructure for The Fragmented Orchestra, winner of the prestigious PRSF New Music Award 2008, and was more recently a fellow on the Mozilla Webmaker programme.

DORKBOT SYD : JULY 2014 : Lovid, Systhesisers and Ceramics / Semaphore and Kinect / Megaphones

WHAT: People doing strange things with electricity
: MONDAY 28th July, 6-8pm
WHERECollege of Fine Arts, UNSW, Cnr of Oxford St and Greens Rd Paddington, Outdoor Courtyard, between Block D and Block F (campus map here!)




LoVid is the NY based interdisciplinary artist duo comprised of Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus. LoVid’s work combines handmade engineering with craft and fine art. Their expansive practice includes immersive installations, sculptural synthesizers, single channel videos, participatory projects, mobile media cinema, works on paper, and A/V performance. LoVid has toured and exhibited in the USA and Europe extensively. Throughout their diverse projects, LoVid continuously explores relationships between technology and the individual human body or contemporary society.

Reaction Bubble is a work in progress by LoVid commissioned by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and produced by Real Art Ways. For this work, LoVid invited a ceramicist and a choreographer to collaborate on an immersive installation where LoVid’s audio/video synthesizer will be encased in ceramic sculptures and activated by performers. Reaction Bubble draws inspiration from the study of proxemics, which is concerned with the distances between people depending on the relationships and contexts in which they interact.


Flagging, Frances Barrett with Samuel Bruce, Live Performance, 2014, Photo: Lucy Parakhina

Flagging is a live performance by Frances Barrett with sound composition and programming by Samuel Bruce. Flagging is a manifesto performed in semaphore code by Frances. Semaphore is a system of sending messages by positioning the arms or two flags according to an alphabetic code. Using a Microsoft Kinect and the softwares Processing and Pure Data, Samuel built a system whereby the computer ‘read’ Frances’ semaphore message, with each semaphore symbol triggering samples and musical phrases.


Image credit:
Flagging, Frances Barrett with Samuel Bruce, Live Performance, 2014, Photo: Lucy Parakhina



The invention of the megaphone allowed for the extension of the human voice to be heard over large areas, its earliest use resolved a means to carry out authority in cases of propaganda and crowd-control. The concept of the megaphone has well progressed from its inception, when human ancestors first cupped their hands and yelled, to even subsiding Edison’s vision. This project is an attempt to activate multi-level relationships of listening between a receiving body and a producing body via experimentation with varying conditions of “noise”, time, architecture and space. Hacking the functions of a 50W megaphone through simple reverse amplification, perhaps could allow us to re-consider ‘listening’ as a phenomenon of production and interpretation than a mere point of response and receiving, an “instrument of listening voices” over an “apparatus for amplified instruction.” Soundcloud: Pre-Dorkbot Event (If curious to listen to megaphone in a 1hour long experimental set):

Our usual “show and tell” slot at the end of Dorkbot is an invitation for anyone present something they are working on, thinking of or can’t work out! Sharing is caring.


DORKBOT SYD : JUNE 2014 : Projection Projects

WHAT: People doing strange things with electricity
: Thursday 26th June, 6-8pm
WHERECollege of Fine Arts, UNSW, Cnr of Oxford St and Greens Rd Paddington, Outdoor Courtyard, between Block D and Block F (campus map here!)


This month is a special outdoor (weather permitting) Dorkbot, where we’ll be taking over the COFA courtyard and firing up a few projectors to light up the night sky. Rug up and Bring Your Own Beamer (see the end of this post for more)…


Andrew Burrell and Chris Rodley (Live Data Streams)


Andrew Burrell is a contemporary arts practitioner with a history in real time 3d and interactive audio installation. He is exploring notions of self and narrative and the implications of virtual worlds, networked environments and artificial life systems upon identity. His networked projects in virtual environments have received international recognition. He holds a PhD from the University of Sydney (Sydney College of the Arts).

Chris Rodley is a writer for new media whose work is exploring emerging frontiers for the literary in networked environments. Past projects include writing for web, television and live performance. Chris is currently a PhD candidate in digital cultures at the University of Sydney, where he is studying the rise of data-driven writing.

Andrew and Chris will present their recent collaborations. They will be focusing on the challenges of working with live social data and on moving between screens spaces – from tablet & laptop to large scale projection. Recently, their focus has been on storytelling with real-time data in a series of media art collaborations including Enquire Within Upon Everybody, presented simultaneously in Sydney and Darwin as part of ISEA2013, and Everything is Going To Be OK, a dialogue created from social media content shown at the Electronic Literature Organization’s 2014 conference and media arts show in Milwaukee, USA.

Bert Bongers (Projections in the Wild and other Interactivities)


A/Prof Bert Bongers leads the Interactivation Studio in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at UTS to support the design and research of interactivating objects and spaces. He lectures across the design disciplines in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Bert has a mixed background in technology, human sciences and the arts, developed through education as well as practice. In his work he combines insights and experiences gained from musical instrument design, interactive architecture, video performances and interface development for multimedia systems to establish frameworks and an ecological approach for interaction between people and technology. Currently his research projects cover the design and development of interactive rehabilitation tools, advanced lighting controllers, haptic feedback, and interactive textiles.

MPU and Toby&Pete (Mobile and Interactive)


MPU (Mobile Projection Unit) is a collective working on taking mobile interactive experiences out into the urban landscape. The foundation of our work is to use urban architecture to generate and drive the interactive experience. By scanning building facades and determining features such as windows, doors, pipes and signs the MPU system is able to feed these into projected imagery as interactive elements in the form of geometry, boundaries or obstacles.

Toby and Pete is a multi-disciplinary design studio that brings together a select team of creative specialists. Since opening our doors in 2010, our constant curiosity has lead us to build a folio with roots in printcraft to one that now spans across film, interactive installations and more recently live visuals performed to crowds of thousands of people.

Volker Kuchelmeister (Expanded Spaces of Representation: Exploding the boundaries of the cinematic image)


Volker Kuchelmeister is a media artist, researcher and digital media specialist. He is expert in place representation and has worked extensively in cinematography, experimental imaging, spatial mapping, interactive systems, immersive visualisation and mediation in the performing arts while exploring and exploding the boundaries of the cinematic image. He was a founding member of several media-based research labs (ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, University of New South Wales iCinema Centre and the National Institute for Experimental Art iCinema Lab) and his art projects are exhibited internationally.


Bring Your Own Beamer and share your ideas! As a special Dorkbot show-and-tell, we want to see projection work of all shapes and sizes, painting the concrete walls of the COFA courtyard. Share your work-in-progress and crazy light/projection hacking stories! Arrive early to set up and find that all important power outlet.

Poster image: Snake The Planet by MPU


WHAT: People doing strange things with electricity
: Thursday 29th May, 6-8pm
WHERE: College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Cnr of Oxford St and Greens Rd Paddington, Main Lecture Theatre – EG02 (campus map here!)



Andreas Siagian (Indonesia): LifePatch

Andreas Siagian is an artist, engineer and internet troll,  a cross disciplinary artist with an engineering background focusing on creative communities, alternative education, DIY/DIWO culture and interdisciplinary collaboration in art, science and technology. Since 2004, he is working in community-base initiatives to produce installations, workshops, lectures and organizing events as well as festivals in Indonesia. His collaborative actions with the local creative community developments included him as a co-founder of several initiatives such as breakcore_LABS, a platform for experimental audiovisual performance;, an online street art documentation and mapping for Indonesia and – citizen initiative for art, science and technology, an independent community-based organization working in creative and appropriate application in the fields of art, science and technology. With Hackteria, he was the co-director of HackteriaLab 2014 – Yogyakarta.

Lindsay Kelly
Working in the kitchen, Lindsay Kelley’s art practice and scholarship explore how the experience of eating changes when technologies are being eaten. She is working on her book, The Bioart Kitchen, which emerges from her work at the University of California Santa Cruz (Ph.D in the History of Consciousness and MFA in Digital Art and New Media). Lindsay is an Associate Lecturer at COFA UNSW as well as an International Research Fellow at the Center for Fine Art Research, Birmingham City University.

Members of Australia’s only Biohacking group will join us to discuss their projects and activities. They invite us to come along and help them make stuff glow and cure health problems as citizen scientists.


Andrew Tuckwell from BIOMOD will be speaking about the project briefly. BIOMOD is an annual, international bio-nanotechnology competition for undergraduates run by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Students design and construct simple machines and structures on a nano-scale out of the basic molecules of life (DNA, RNA and Proteins) and present their work at a conference at Harvard University in November.


Poster image – lifepatch at BioArtNergy, 2012, installation