Latest blog posts

FoAM 02017, in a rearview mirror Feb. 2, 2018, 4:49 a.m.

In several FoAM studios we hold seasonal observances to celebrate yearly cycles. The beginning of February is one such feast. The inception of spring in the Northern hemisphere, autumn in the south. In some cultures this is considered auspicious time to review what has been done in the past year; to remember the achievements and let go of regrets, before moving into a new season. As if looking through a rearview mirror, or walking backwards into the future. To mark the occasion, we put together a collection of photographs in review of the last 12 months across the FoAM network.

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Viruscraft hardware prototyping: etching PCBs Jan. 30, 2018, 10:06 a.m.

While we experiment with new fabrication techniques in order to shorten supply chains (with a philosophy of collapse in mind), electronics is problematic. Components can be salvaged and reclaimed but a particular problem is printed circuit board manufacture.

Like many we have tended to outsource this work to China, where the costs allow us to do short-run prototyping with our tiny budgets. Are these lower costs simply due to scale and the Communist support of the Maker community there? Or more worryingly, is this due to reduced regulations in the areas of employment rights and environmental protection?

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Midimutant in MagPi Magazine Jan. 29, 2018, 12:54 p.m.

Here's an article on midimutant we did with Aphex Twin for MagPi Magazine, written by Sean McManus. Most of the work on this project recently has revolved around exploring custom hardware using old FM synth chips from games consoles, but there should be more evolved DX7 sounds around here soon.

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Video excerpts from "In Anticipation..." Jan. 24, 2018, 4:36 a.m.

FoAM Earth published video excerpts from the audiovisual performance "In anticipation of things already present". They are available on FoAM's Vimeo channel. We selected seven excerpts that can be watched as standalone videos. While they have a backstory, they are not "about" anything in particular. Instead, they are meant as suggestive, associative and atmospheric meditations on attunement to a multiplicity of pasts, presents and futures.

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Further attempts at untangling tablet weave Jan. 12, 2018, 1:29 p.m.

One of the great unknowns following the first weavecoding project was the nature of tablet weave. Other than a few primitive attempts that didn't work in all cases and lead us to further questions, modelling tablet weave fully was left as an undeciphered mystery. Tablet weave is a complex and particularly ancient form of weaving, while it's simple to do with easily found materials, it produces a kind of double weave with twisting, and you can create crazy higher level 3D structure as it is free from the constraints of fixed loom technology.

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Futurecrafting in Cornwall with FoAM Earth Dec. 14, 2017, 2:36 p.m.

The future is in short supply at the moment, particularly in the UK with so many things changing - it is a constant surprise that there are so few ideas about where we could be headed. At the smaller scales too, at FoAM Kernow, in common with many organisations there is a feeling we tend to be so fixated on the current problems (do we need to invoice for that project, have we replied to this important email, have we reached an agreement on the next steps for this other project), that we miss the long view. Why are we doing this? What are we doing it for? Do we know if this is the right approach? These seem difficult to answer when stuck in short term thinking.

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Accesslab Pilot 2 Notes Dec. 6, 2017, 1:08 p.m.

Recently we ran the second trial of our AccessLab project. We are iteratively developing a workshop format that works across a wide range of audiences, helping people to access and use scientific information. This post covers some of the changes we made to the format, what worked and what didn’t, the feedback received, and what we’d like to change next time.

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Viruscraft prototyping Dec. 1, 2017, 2:09 p.m.

How do viruses evolve and switch to new hosts? Using virus structure as our basis we're designing a new tangible interface to explore the evolution of viruses, together with a game world full of host species that are affected by how you shape your virus. This post outlines the prototyping to date.

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How to design a tangible programming language – Pattern Matrix at Algomech (part 2) Nov. 27, 2017, 12:01 p.m.

Once we acknowledge that weaving and programming are part of the same technological timeline, we can begin to look at the history of weaving as a eight thousand year long tale of human relationship with digital technologies - and use this long view to research new approaches to software engineering, a field with a much less developed history and many interesting problems to solve.

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Pattern Matrix at Algomech (part 1) Nov. 22, 2017, 4:25 p.m.

I'm writing this on the train with a slightly sleep deprived brain fizzing and popping from thoughts, ideas and conversations from this year's Algomech festival in Sheffield. The Penelope project took a significant role in the festival, with the group's participation in the Unmaking Symposium, the exhibition and also testing our latest weavecoding technology at the Algorave. I'll be writing more on the algorave in a subsequent post.

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