Latest blog posts

AccessLab 2018: The launch of a new workshop series May 3, 2018, 6:07 p.m.

We are launching a series of three new AccessLab events for 2018 - for those working in the fishing and marine sectors, journalism and blogging, and parliamentary, council and policy roles. The AccessLab project aims to improve access to and the judgement of scientific evidence, through pairing scientific researchers with people who are seeking reliable information. Our focus is on developing skills for finding scientific information and judging its reliability, rather than just transferring subject-specific knowledge.

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Dust and shadow. Fieldnotes #2 Feb. 26, 2018, 7:15 p.m.

Thanksgiving. A convivial gathering around a long wooden table, laden with food and filled with laughter. The familiar cadences of a feast, yet one with unfamiliar origins. We were temporarily adopted into our collaborators’ lives and welcomed as returning family members. Kith and kin, ken or kin. Akin. Some rootless others uprooted, weathering the end-of-term academic storm. A temporary intensification of familiarity. Threads are picked up from conversations months old. Our relationships with members of FoAM’s distributed clan have begun to follow the rhythms of nomadic journeying. Deep and involved when we briefly occupy the same spatiotemporal dimension, loose and relaxed while we travel elsewhere. An irregular pulse of welcomes and farewells, of subsuming and letting go.

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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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